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Breaking: Maaveerars Commemorate in North and East

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by Durga Velayutham and Abdul Rafeek for Sri Lanka Guardian

For the first time in history, the true maaveerars ( great heroes) of the Tamil people are being celebrated by ordinary communities and youth organizations in the North and East. To commemorate the Tamil politicians, intellectuals and social activists who were brutally killed by the LTTE during the reign of terror, they have launched a poster campaign in all the districts of the North and East Provinces this morning.

Here are a few images captured by our correspondents.

Sri Lanka to Legalize Cannabis

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President Ranil Wickremesinghe said in Parliament today that he will take the necessary steps to establish the legal framework for the export of products containing cannabis. He said this while presenting the budget for the year 2023.

The 2023 budget presented by President Ranil Wickremesinghe in Parliament today focused on providing social welfare benefits to the people who need them most, the President’s office said.

The 2023 budget is also aimed at long-term, stable economic growth, the President’s Media Division said.

“The 2023 budget has given special attention to the sectors of the capital market, export market, labour market, and digital economy and it is expected to achieve the budget targets through the social market economy,” the PMD said.

India: Top Court Releases all Convicts in Rajiv Assassination

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The Supreme Court on Friday ruled that all six convicts of the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case’s should be released early. Criminal defendants Nalini Srihar, Robert Pais, Ravichandran, Raja, Shriharan, and Jaikumar were ordered to be released.

The order was issued in response to the directive issued on May 17 that granted relief to Perarivalan, another defendant in the case, by a bench made up of Justices BR Gavai and BV Nagarathna.

The appellants are directed to be set at liberty if not required in any other matter”, the bench ordered.

The bench observed that the present applicants are subject to the Perarivalan order. The Court observed that the Governor had not followed the Tamil Nadu Government’s recommendation to release all prisoners.

The bench also noted that the prisoners had served more than three decades in jail and that their behaviour there had been acceptable. The Supreme Court ruled in the Perarivalan case that the State cabinet decision obligated the Governor in the question of remission.

“In the case of Robert Pais, it is seen that his conduct is satisfactory and that he is suffering from various illness, he has obtained various degrees,” the court observed.

Source: lagatar24.com

Exclusive: Russia Rebuffs Ukraine’s Claim over 7 Sri Lankans

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Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy recently in a video address claimed that seven Sri Lankan citizens who had been held by the Russian forces since March were rescued.

However, when Sri Lanka Guardian contacted a top-ranking officer in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MID) in Moscow, has vehemently refused the Ukrainian claim by saying that was a “cooked up story” by the Ukrainian authority.

“Russia did all it could to ensure the safe return of foreign students. In total, hundreds were assisted in returning to their home countries even in absence of Russian visas,” the official told the Sri Lanka Guardian.

“Why on earth would 7 poor students be ‘held in a basement?’ Question to Sri Lanka Embassy and Ukrainian regime which is desperately seeking international attention to keep the war going,” the official questioned.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka Guardian tried to get a detailed account of the incident from Mohamed Rizvi Hassen, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary (Resident) at the Embassy of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka in Ankara, Turkey, which oversees Ukraine too but was unsuccessful.

Queen Elizabeth II dies aged 96

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Queen Elizabeth II has died, Buckingham Palace announced on Thursday. Britain’s longest-reigning monarch passed away at the age of 96, after 70 years on the throne.

She is succeeded by her eldest son and heir, the Prince of Wales, who becomes King Charles III.

Her Majesty’s death comes after one of the most significant periods of her reign, in which she rallied the nation during the coronavirus pandemic, and felt the affection of her people as she returned to public life after the death of her beloved Prince Philip and celebrated her Platinum Jubilee year.

The Queen was last pictured in public formally appointing the new Prime Minister, Liz Truss, at Balmoral on Tuesday. She postponed a virtual Privy Council meeting the following day after being advised by doctors to rest.

On Thursday, Buckingham Palace announced that she was under medical supervision at Balmoral after her doctors became “concerned” about her health.

The Queen had enjoyed remarkably good health until her mid-90s, where she scaled back her public appearances after suffering mobility problems and illness that required her to rest.

As she increasingly suffered from what Buckingham Palace described as “episodic mobility problems”, she was compelled to miss events, including the State Opening of Parliament, service of Remembrance at the Cenotaph and the Commonwealth Day service. In February, she contracted Covid-19 amid an outbreak at Windsor Castle.

Through it all, she maintained her devotion to her constitutional duties and was regularly photographed holding meetings in person and via videolink from Windsor.

The announcement of her death marks the start of national mourning, with the Royal court to spend one month officially honouring her memory.

Across the country, union flags will be lowered, church services held, and condolence books offered for members of the public to pay their respects during the most seismic institutional change of most of their lifetimes.

Her Majesty’s many admirers are expected to be welcomed to commemorate her life over the coming 10 days, during a lying in state at Westminster Hall, a funeral at Westminster Abbey and a spectacular ceremonial procession to her final resting place at St George’s Chapel, Windsor.

Buckingham Palace will release official arrangements for the funeral in the coming days, after they have been signed off by the new King.

New era begins under King Charles

While the nation mourns the Queen, it will also mark the beginning of a new reign as a new era of monarchy begins under King Charles.

The Accession Council will now meet in St James’s Palace to agree the formal proclamation of the new King, which will be announced to the public from a balcony in the Palace’s Colour Court.

Charles is expected to be present at the meeting to take a religious oath, in what is expected to be the first time the historic ceremony has been televised live.

With inputs from Telegraph UK ( Click here to read the original)

Travis Sinniah: First Sri Lankan to Be Honoured by NDU

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On August 9, the National Defense University in Washington DC welcomed three new CISA alumni to the International Fellows Hall of Fame in a ceremony held in Sydney, Australia during NDU’s 16th Alumni Continuing Education Security Seminar, the statement issued by College of International Security Affairs of National Defense University (NDU).

During the event, Admiral (Ret) Travis Sinniah) has been recognized for his service as Commander of the Sri Lankan Navy. He is the first Sri Lankan to be inducted.

Meanwhile, Major General Abdulla Shamaal of the Maldives, who is also the first Maldivian graduate to be inducted and Major General Molefi Seikano of Botswana were also recognized for their respective services.

“We thank them and their families for their commitment to the service of their fellow citizens and to the safety and security of their respective regions and the globe. Together we can overcome today’s security challenges,” the statement further elaborated.

Admiral Travis Sinniah, WWV, RWP, RSP, USP, ndu, psc was a Sri Lankan admiral and the 21st Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy. He has served as the Commander of Sri Lanka’s Eastern Naval Area and as Flag Officer Commanding the Naval Fleet. He was the second Tamil to be appointed the commander of the Sri Lankan Navy after Rajan Kadiragamar in the 1960s.

Click here to watch his Farewell Speech as the Commander of Sri Lanka Navy;

Admiral Travis Jeremy Liyanduru Sinniah was educated at Trinity College, Kandy, and St. Joseph’s College, Trincomalee. He joined the Naval and Maritime Academy, Trincomalee, as an Officer Cadet in 1982, and graduated in 1984. He was selected to attend the Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, from which he graduated in 1986. His training at HMS Dryad, HMS Mercury, HMS Collingwood and HMS Vernon at Portsmouth in the United Kingdom, has been among the best in the world. He has served on board British Warships during his time at Dartmouth.

Admiral Sinniah was the senior-most naval officer to be in active combat operations at sea during the war. He was awarded the highest combat medal (granted to a living officer) for exceptional valour and gallantry, the Weera Wickrama Vibhushanaya (WWV), and recommended for field promotion to the rank of Rear Admiral on account of his exceptional contribution to the war effort. His most significant Gallantry awards are the Weera Wickrama Vibushanaya (WWV), awarded for individual acts of gallantry and conspicuous bravery of a military nature of a high order in the face of the enemy, the Rana Wickrama Padakkama (RWP), awarded for exceptional gallantry in the face of the enemy and the Rana Sura Padakkama (RSP), awarded and re-awarded for gallantry in the face of the enemy. His other awards are the Uththama Seva Padakkama (USP), the Vadamarachchi campaign medal, the Riviresa campaign medal with clasp, the North & East operation medal with double clasp, the Sri Lanka long service medal with clasp, the Purna Bhoomi operation medal, the Sri Lanka independence 50th anniversary Medal and the Humanitarian operation medals for the north and the east with clasps.

The admiral received his specialization in Naval Communications and Electronic warfare at HMS Mercury, Petersfield, Portsmouth and INS Venduruthi, Cochin, India. He attended the Defence Services Staff College at Wellington, India and was conferred the Master of Science degree in Defence and Strategic Studies. He followed a special course on Diplomacy and holds a Diploma in International Studies.

Admiral Sinniah is a Counter Terrorism Fellow (CTF) of the National Defence University, Washington DC. USA and he was made the “Distinguished Graduate” at the NDU for the year 2005. Admiral Sinniah followed the Defence Cooperation Course conducted by the Defence Institute of Security Assistance Management, Ohio.

Admiral Sinniah is a front line Executive Officer who has served in all the Squadrons of the SLN. He has held the prominent appointments of Flag Officer Commanding Naval Fleet, Commandant Naval and Maritime Academy, Deputy Area Commander East, Commandant Volunteer Naval Force and Commander Eastern Naval Area. He has commanded the flag ship of the Sri Lanka Navy, SLNS Sagara. He served in the Elite 4th Fast Attack Flotilla as a Squadron Commander and subsequently commanded the Flotilla as its Commanding Officer (FAF4). In addition, he has served as Commanding Officer on board Sri Lanka Navy’s Offshore Patrol Vessels, Fast Missile Vessels, Fast Gun Boats and Fast Personal Carriers.

The admiral has held various staff positions at the Naval Headquarters, which include Naval Assistant to the Commander of the Navy, Staff Officer Projects and Plans, Senior Staff Officer Research and Development, Director Naval Projects and Plans and R & D and Deputy Director Naval Administration. He has also served as Deputy Area Commander of the Eastern, Northern and North Western Naval Commands.

Admiral Sinniah is a respected instructor and an eloquent speaker. He has represented the Navy at innumerable seminars and conferences, and presented papers at many of them. He spearheaded the establishment of the Naval wing for the Defence Services Staff College at Batalanda, laying down its syllabi and planning its initial courses.

Admiral Sinniah is a specialist in counter terrorism and littoral warfare. He was nominated to direct the Maldivian Defence Forces (MNDF) in formulating their maritime security strategy and counter-terrorism doctrine, which was implemented in 2008; it remains as the MNDF foundation policy on counter-terrorism at sea and on land.

Admiral (Ret) Travis Sinniah) of Sri Lanka, Major General Abdulla Shamaal of Maldives, and Major General Molefi Seikano of Botswana with CISA officer during the event [ Photo: Sri Lanka Guardian/CISA]

He was instrumental in the design and modification of naval guns for the SLN, working closely with Royal Ordnance UK, and in the design of the Super Dvora class of FAC with Israeli aircraft industries. He was also the design leader for the indigenous 30mm stabilized gun of the SLN.

Admiral Sinniah is a sharpshooter and an “X” marksman. He is an excellent IPSC practical pistol shooter who captained the navy team in 2001/2002. Admiral Sinniah is a keen sportsman, and represented the Navy in basketball, soccer, rugby, squash and badminton.

Admiral Sinniah is a battle-hardened officer who has been awarded and re-awarded for valour and gallantry. He led the Naval Task Force in the destruction of LTTE “warehouse” ships over a period of two years. This monumental operation, “Sagara Balaya”, was the turning point in the war against the LTTE, and heralded its end. He has 37 LTTE hits under his command, and counts over 70 hits by the fleet during his tenure as Commander of the Fast Attack Flotilla. Admiral Sinniah was the officer who apprehended the infamous LTTE ship “Kadalpura” with 19 black sea tigers on-board, including the LTTE second-in-command and 9 LTTE leaders, a significant milestone in the course of the war.

Admiral Sinniah has been mentioned in dispatches and personally commended by the President of Sri Lanka for acts of conspicuous bravery, exceptional gallantry and outstanding service to the nation.

Prior to his appointment as the 21st Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy on 22nd August 2017, Admiral Sinniah held the post of Commander Eastern Naval Area. After his appointment as the Commander of the Navy the veteran naval officer introduced a new deployment of naval ships and craft in the northern seas. The initiative produced imminent results causing a significant drop in the number of Indian fishing trawlers entered into the Sri Lankan territorial waters.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Life in Danger in Bangkok

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Former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, is staying at a hotel in the heart of Bangkok and police are advising him not to leave for security reasons, a source quoted by local media in Bangkok has reported.

Mr Rajapaksa arrived with three other people on a chartered flight from Singapore at Don Mueang International Airport around 8pm on Thursday.

According to the source, the group had planned to land in Phuket but concerns about a possible information leak resulted in the flight being redirected to Bangkok.

At the hotel, the location of which was not disclosed, plainclothes officers from the Special Branch Bureau have been deployed to ensure his safety.

Officials have asked the former leader to remain within the hotel during his stay in the country, the source told the Bangkok Post.

Mr Rajapaksa fled Sri Lanka on July 14 for Singapore amid massive protests over the country’s worst economic crisis in decades.

He resigned from the presidency after arriving in the city-state, where his visa expired this week.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha told reporters on Wednesday that Mr Rajapaksa would be allowed to enter Thailand on humanitarian grounds but would be advised to keep a low profile.

Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai of Thailand said the former Sri Lankan president could stay for up to 90 days as he carried a diplomatic passport. Mr Rajapaksa has made no public appearances or comments since leaving Sri Lanka.

Move Forward Party MP Rangsiman Rome yesterday took to Facebook to attack the government for allowing Mr Rajapaksa to stay in Thailand while “[turning] away Myanmar people fleeing war in the neighbouring country”.

Source: Bangkok Post

Pakistan Navy Ship Calls at Port of Colombo

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Pakistan Navy Ship (PNS) Taimur arrived at the port of Colombo on a formal visit yesterday morning (12th August 2022). The visiting ship was welcomed by the Sri Lanka Navy in compliance with naval traditions.

The 134m-long ship is commanded by Captain M Yasir Tahir and it is manned by 169 as the ship’s complement.

In the meantime, the Commanding Officer of PNS Taimur is scheduled to call on Commander Western Naval Area at the Western Naval Command Headquarters today. The ship is expected to remain in the island until 15th August and the crew of the ship will take part in several programmes organized by the Sri Lanka Navy to promote cooperation and goodwill between two navies.

Colombo call

Further, PNS Taimur is expected to conduct a naval exercise with the Sri Lanka Navy in western seas on its departure on 15th August.

Meanwhile, PNS Tughril an identical warship belongs to the Pakistan Navy arrived in Sri Lanka on an official visit on 13th December 2021 and conducted a successful naval exercise with SLNS Sindurala off the western coast on 16th December. Naval exercises of this nature with regional navies will enable each partner to overcome common maritime challenges in the future, through enhanced cooperation.

PNS Taimur is the second of four frigates of Type 054 A/P being built for the Pakistan Navy. The lead ship of the class, PNS Tughril, was commissioned on January 24, 2022. PNS Taimur was launched on 29 January 2021, and the Chinese shipyard completed the ship in 17 months.

Pakistan signed an initial contract for the delivery of two Type 054 A/P frigates in 2017. An additional contract for two more ships was announced in June 2018. According to the contract, all four ships are built in China and the first two are expected to be delivered to the customer by year-end. HZ Shipyard seems to kept its commitment by delivering the second Type 054 A/P frigate on time.

The Pakistan Navy is currently undertaking an important renewal of its fleet, with the procurement of several modern platforms: In addition to these frigates from China, Pakistan will also commission new corvettes from Turkey and OPV from the Netherlands. It is also modernizing its submarine force. In 2016, Pakistan agreed to pay China $5 billion for the acquisition of eight Chinese Yuan-class type-041 diesel submarines by 2028 in order to shift the force balance with its archrival India.

The Type 054A is a multi-role frigate and is recognized as the backbone of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) fleet of surface combatants with 30 vessels in commission. They have a length of 134 meters, a beam of 16 meters for a displacement of 4,000 tons. They have a crew complement of 165 sailors and are fitted with:

  • a H/PJ-26 76mm main gun
  • 2×4 CM302 anti-ship missiles
  • 32x VLS cells for HQ-16 surface-to-air missiles
  • 2x Type 730 30mm CIWS
  • 2x Triple Torpedo launchers

In PLAN service, those frigates feature a Type 382 radar which shares a close resemblance with the Russian MR-710 Fregat radar. Unlike the Pakistan Navy variant – whose first ship-in-class is fitted with an SR2410C radar – the Type 054A in Chinese Navy service does not feature a long-range/metric wave radar.

Sri Lanka: Ex-President Gotabaya in Thailand

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Former  President Gotabaya Rajapaksa arrived in Thailand today evening from Singapore marking his third stop since he left the country a month back. He was granted entry following a request from the Sri Lankan government.

Local media in Bangkok reported that he is believed to have arrived at Bangkok’s Don Mueang Airport around 8 pm Bangkok time, via a charter plane from Singapore’s Seletar airport.

Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman Tanee Sangrat said in a statement on Wednesday that temporary entry was granted on the grounds that he does not intend to seek political asylum.

According to Tanee since the former president holds a diplomatic passport he is allowed to enter Thailand without a visa for 90 days.

“The stay is temporary in nature with the aim of onward travel. No political asylum has been sought,” Tanee was quoted as saying.

Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha told the media yesterday that permission was granted on humanitarian reasons. Mr Rajapaksa who left Sri Lanka on July 13 to the Maldives on an Air Force flight flew to Singapore on the following day.