Sri Lanka General Explains Why He Was Denied Visa To Attend UN

Sri Lanka’s ex-army chief Sarath Fonseka on Tuesday said he had been denied a visa to attend the UN General Assembly because of unresolved war crime allegations against the military.

The war-time general, who is now minister of regional development, said he was due to travel to New York this week, but he was the only one in the Sri Lankan delegation not issued a visa.

Fonseka said he could not accompany President Maithripala Sirisena who left Colombo on Sunday to address the United Nations General Assembly.

“I was not given a visa because of the war crimes allegations against the military,” Fonseka told reporters. “That is why I say they must be investigated.”

He said the excesses by a “few” during the final stages of the island’s Tamil separatist war should not tarnish the image of the Sri Lankan armed forces.

The military crushed separatist Tamil Tiger rebels in May 2009 following a no-holds-barred offensive that also triggered allegations against the forces of killing at least 40,000 Tamil civilians.

The government at the time insisted that no civilians were killed by its troops and faced international censure over its dismal human rights record.

Fonseka, who led the military, has maintained that he did not order troops to target civilians but has acknowledged that there may have been excesses that should be investigated.

The new government, which came to power in January 2015, promised investigations but those are yet to begin.

Earlier this month Fonseka accused his successor Jagath Jayasuriya of committing crimes against Tamil rebel suspects during and after the island’s ethnic war and said he was ready to testify against the former military commander.

A human rights group filed two complaints in Colombia and Brazil against Jayasuriya, who was Sri Lanka’s ambassador to several South American countries until recently.

The group alleged that Jayasuriya oversaw torture camps and was responsible for hundreds of disappearances and extrajudicial killings in the final stages of the conflict when he was a senior officer.

The UN has estimated that at least 100,000 people were killed between 1972 and 2009.

Tiger rebels have been accused of using human shields and killing civilians in their guerrilla war for a separate homeland for the minority ethnic Tamil community in the Sinhala-majority nation.

Five Students Drown In Sri Lanka Boat Accident

Five students drowned and another was missing in the worst boat accident in Sri Lanka’s war-scarred north since fighting ceased there nearly a decade ago, an official said on Monday.

The students were on a leisure cruise off islets around Jaffna when their boat capsized, police said in a statement.

The victims, aged 19 and 20, were celebrating a birthday when the accident occurred. Only one passenger made if off the craft unscathed.

Navy divers were searching for the missing student, while the bodies of the others have been taken to Jaffna hospital, 400 kilometres (250 miles) north of the capital Colombo.

It was the worst accident in the Jaffna region, which saw some of the world’s violence of Sri Lanka’s 37-year civil war, since a bus and truck collided in December, killing 10.

Many overcrowded boats capsized in the north during the war, leading to countless casualties, as Tamils tried to flee fierce fighting in Jaffna.

Much of Jaffna, the cultural capital of Sri Lanka’s minority Tamil community, was destroyed during the war, but large parts have been rebuilt.

AFP

Chandimal, Tharanga To Lead Sri Lanka After Mathews Departs

Dinesh Chandimal was named skipper of Sri Lanka’s Test team on Wednesday, while fellow batsman Upul Tharanga has been tasked with leading the limited-overs squads after Angelo Mathews relinquished the captaincy across all formats a day earlier.

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) president Thilanga Sumathipala said the board had accepted Mathews’ resignation following a shock one-day series defeat by Zimbabwe, which the all-rounder described as one of the lowest points of his career.

“As the captain, I cannot turn a blind eye to the failures of our team during the last several months,” Mathews told a news conference where the new captains were named, referring to the team’s struggles since the 2015 World Cup.

Sri Lanka’s new captains have little time to adjust to their roles as the side hosts Zimbabwe in a one-off Test starting on Friday, before welcoming India for a full series from July 26, featuring three Tests, five one-dayers and a Twenty20 match.

The 1996 world champions, currently ranked seventh in tests and eighth in one-dayers, are also vying with West Indies for the last available automatic place in the 2019 World Cup.

Chandimal said he looked forward to receiving guidance from Mathews as he begins his tenure against Zimbabwe in Colombo before taking on the top-ranked team in Test cricket.

Mathews marks his return to the Test side against Zimbabwe after missing the previous home series against Bangladesh through injury. Friday’s match will be the first he plays in without being in charge since 2013.

NIPSS Set To Graduate 67 SEC 38 Participants 

nipss, SEC 38The National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, kuru, Jos North Central Nigeria, is set to graduate 67 participants of the Senior Executive Course (SEC 38).

Briefing journalists on the activities of the institute towards the graduation ceremony, Acting Director General Of The Institute, Mr Jonathan Juma, said President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to be the Special Guest of Honour at the occasion.

The course which commenced in March 2016, was themed: “Strengthening Institutional Mechanism for Poverty reduction and Inclusive Development in Nigeria”, with participants embarking on study tours of states within the country and outside the country.

Tunisia, Kenya, Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana, Namibia and Ethiopia were some of the countries visited by participants, while the international tours included India, Poland, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Romania and Thailand.

Also, participants of the SEC 38 course, had a presidential parley with the President, where paper presentations were done as well as recommendations presented to the him, on the theme of the course.

Although a joyous occasion, a tragic event occurred in which one of the participants from Niger state unfortunately died a day to the graduation ceremony.

He will however still be awarded the member of national institute posthumously.

Seyi Shay Joins United Nations Campaign To Empower Women

Seyi ShayNigerian songstress Seyi Shay has joined artistes from around the world to collaborate on a remake of the Spice Girls’ Wannabe video done 20 years ago.

They include Gigi Lamayne and Moneoa from South Africa, Bollywood actress Jacqueline Fernandez from Sri Lanka, M.O from the UK, Taylor Hatala from Canada and Larsen Thompson from the USA.

The video called #WhatIReallyReallyWant will be viewed by world leaders in September 2016 during the Global Goals week telling them what girls and women really want in 2016.
Directed by MJ Delaney, #WhatiReallyReallyWant focuses on women empowerment as a means of achieving the Global Goals which are a mighty plan to end poverty, fix climate change and address inequalities over the next 15 years.

This will only be possible if they address the needs of the most marginalised first, particularly girls and women.

Project Everyone has convened the first Global Goals campaign for girls and women to fight for Goals which are famous, financed and focused on girls and women.

Seyi-Shay-Child-MarriageDuring the next United Nations General Assembly, world leaders will convene to make informed decisions as the film and campaign will call on people to share a picture of #WhatIReallyReallyWant for girls and women.

The visual response from around the world will then be presented at the UN General Assembly in September.

This demonstration of mass public support for the rights of girls and women will be used to engender new political and financial commitments from governments, in support of their commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals.

The campaign on Wednesday previewed the “#WhatIReallyReallyWant” film at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in partnership with Getty Images and SAWA, the global cinema advertising association.

The film is an updated version of the Spice Girls’ Wannabe music video to reflect the voices of girls and women all over the world telling world leaders what Goals they ‘really really want’ to be achieved to help improve their lives.

These include issues like quality education, an end to violence, an end to child marriage and equal pay for equal work.

Seyi Shay

Seyi Shay is an international recording artist, song writer and performer currently signed to Island Records UK, she has made a name for herself as one of the biggest artists to come out of Africa.

Seyi Shay also known as Oluwaseyi Deborah Joshua was born on December 21st 1985 in London, UK to Nigerian parents.

She spent the majority of her life living in London. Seyi Shay discovered her passion for music at an early age and also got some valuable exposure when she was 14 years old as a member of the London Community Gospel Choir (LCGC) headed by Basil Meade, they embarked on a 13-city tour in Japan where they performed in front of hundreds of people.

 

3.2 Billion People At Risk Of Malaria Globally – Who Report

malaria attack The World Health Organisation (WHO), says about 3.2 billion people remain at risk to malaria attack globally.

A WHO report released on Monday on World Malaria Day entitled: “Eliminating Malaria”says that in 2015 alone, 214 million new cases of the disease were reported in 95 countries and no fewer than 400,000 people died of the disease.

The report is coming a year after the World Health Assembly resolved to eliminate malaria from at least 35 countries by 2030. The report shows the goal, although ambitious, is achievable.

In 2015, all countries in the WHO European Region reported, for the first time, zero indigenous cases of malaria, down from 90 000 cases in 1995. Outside this region, eight countries reported zero cases of the disease in 2014 – Argentina, Costa Rica, Iraq, Morocco, Oman, Paraguay, Sri Lanka and United Arab Emirates.

A statement by a spokesperson for WHO, Christian Lindmeier, said, the “Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2016-2030”, approved by the World Health Assembly in 2015, calls for the elimination of local transmission of malaria in at least 10 countries by 2020.

WHO’s estimates show that 21 countries are in a position to achieve this goal, including six countries in the African region, where the burden of the disease is heaviest.

“Our report shines a spotlight on countries that are well on their way to eliminating malaria,” the Director of the WHO Global Malaria Programme, Dr Pedro Alonso said.

“WHO commends these countries while also highlighting the urgent need for greater investment in settings with high rates of malaria transmission, particularly in Africa. Saving lives must be our first priority.”

Since the year 2000, malaria mortality rates have declined by 60% globally. In the WHO African Region, malaria mortality rates fell by 66% among all age groups and by 71% among children under five years.

WHO pointed out that reaching the goals of the “Global Technical Strategy” would require a steep increase in global and domestic funding—from $2.5 billion today to an estimated $8.7 billion annually by 2030.

“Through robust financing and political will, affected countries can speed progress towards malaria elimination and contribute to the broader development agenda as laid out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” it stressed.

Navy Promises To Ensure Safe Waters During Yuletide

navyThe Nigerian Navy says it remains committed to the safety of the nation’s waters during and after the Yuletide.

The Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Ibok-ete Ibas, said this at the end of the annual inspection exercise usually organized by the Navy, code-named ‘Operation Treasure Guard’, to make officers fit and combat ready for its operations.

The 3-day rigorous exercise on sea and the shores was witnessed by the Chief of Defence Staff, observers from the Defence Headquarters, as well as all Flag Officers leading their various ships.

The exercise kicked off from the Nigerian Naval base in Onne, after being declared open by the Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonishakin, with participating ships on guard and covered from the Calabar Waters East to the Delta regions in the central, the Gulf of Guinea waters towards the Atlantic in the Western Region.

The Chief of Defence staff urged the Nigerian Navy to be more vigilant and committed to securing the wealth of the nation on the sea and shores.

He commended the Navy for the acquisition of more ships, especially for the 30 most recent ones already in Nigeria from Sri Lanka.

The Naval Chief said that the Nigerian Navy in 2016 would not relent in policing the nation’s common wealth along the maritime domain, as presently, 139 illegal bunkeries have been destroyed between July 2015 till date.

While commending the government for its contributions, the Naval Chief made a case for more funding for the Navy in the coming year.

The Flag Officer Commanding, Eastern Naval Command, said that the annual end of the year Navy sea exercise is ‎designed to work up the ships and personnel, in line with the Nigerian Navy doctrine of operations.

A total of 14 ships, covering the Eastern, Western and Central Naval Command, participated in the exercise.

Support Our Efforts To Check Oil Sector Corruption, Buhari Tells Commonwealth

powerPresident Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria has urged the international community to support his government’s efforts to curb corruption in the oil and gas industry.

The President made the demand on Saturday at a group meeting of Commonwealth leaders on corruption held in Malta and chaired by Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain.

He said that corruption in the oil sector and outright theft of Nigeria’s crude oil had been exacerbated by the culture of impunity which reigned under previous administrations.

The President further stated that corruption in the sector had also thrived because of the ease of transferring illicit funds abroad and the institutional protection given to corrupt officials in the past.

“Now that we have the political will to stop impunity, we need the cooperation and assistance of the international community.

“We must all work together to compel multinational oil companies, international financial institutions and international shipping lines to stop aiding and abetting corruption in the oil sector in Nigeria,” President Buhari told the gathering which included the leaders of Australia, Canada, Singapore, Malta, Sri Lanka, Botswana and Trinidad and Tobago.

Need To Reject Corruption

In his opening remarks at the meeting, Prime Minister Cameron said that the Commonwealth and the international community must do more to fight corruption and promote good governance.

“We care passionately about this issue of fighting corruption. In my view, this issue needs to have a much higher billing on the international agenda, not just because fighting corruption is right in itself, but because all the other things we want to achieve as countries and members of the Commonwealth depend on our success in doing so.

“If we want fair economic growth, we need to reject corruption. If we want to see fair and sustainable development, we need to deal with corruption. I think this is an absolutely vital issue. It is an issue for all of us because so much of the money stolen from developing countries is hidden in developed countries.

“So dealing with money laundering, dealing with beneficial ownership and making sure we stop stolen money being hidden away in developed countries is absolutely vital,” the British Prime Minister said.

In an earlier meeting, President Buhari had asked for the support of the Commonwealth in the war on terror currently going in Nigeria’s north-east and other countries that may have been affected by the scourge of terrorism.

Sri Lanka Elections: Rajapaksa Seeks Comeback

Rajapaksa seeks comeback in sri Lanka- electionVoting started in Sri Lanka at 7:00 am in a general election, with Former President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, hoping to stage a comeback as Prime Minister.

Mr Rajapaksa had lost the presidency in a snap election in January to his former Health Minister, Maithripala Sirisena.

Four people had died in violent incidents during the campaign, although, monitors said that there had been less violence compared to previous years.

With 15 million people eligible to cast their vote, the exercise would end at 4:00pm and results would be released on Tuesday.

Mr Rajapaksa was hailed a warrior king for defeating the Tamil Tiger separatists to end a nearly 26-year civil war.

However, he was accused of using his popularity to take control of parliament, the courts, armed forces and all government institutions.

He was also accused of widespread human rights abuses and suppressing freedoms.

Mr Rajapaksa sought an extended period of rule after abolishing a two-term limit for presidents when he lost in his attempt to win a third term.

His main rival is the sitting Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, a two-time Prime Minister.

Tsunami-Hit Nations Mark Anniversary

TsunamiToday marks the 10th anniversary of the 2004 tsunami which killed over 200,000 people in Asia.

Memorial services are being held in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and India for the victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami.

In Indonesia’s province of Aceh – the worst hit area – Vice-President Jusuf Kalla led tributes to the dead at the Siron mass grave.

A series of solemn events and religious rites have also been held in Thailand to mark the anniversary.

Prime Minister Chan-ocha laid a wreath for victims at the site of a beached police boat that has become a symbol of the disaster.

Thai police boat 813 was swept nearly 2km (1.2 miles) in from the sea at Bang Niang near Phuket.

“This heavy loss serves as a reminder and lesson for everyone” he told thousands of guests.

A 9.15-magnitude quake opened a fault line deep beneath the ocean a decade ago and triggered a wave as high as 57 feet which crashed ashore in more than a dozen countries, wiping some communities off the map in seconds.

The tsunami also hit Bangladesh, Myanmar, Malaysia, the Maldives and later reached the east African nations’ of Kenya, Somalia and Tanzania.

UK £3,000 Visa Bond Under Review- British High Commissioner

The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Andrew Pocock, has once again cleared the air on the controversy surrounding a proposed UK government’s bond on visa applicants from some countries, including Nigeria.

He clarified that, ‘the visa bond, as it is being called here, is not a £3,000 charge for a British visa. That is not the case, it is not going to happen now and it is not going to happen in the future. Visa fee, which is what you pay for a visa, will not go to £3,000 or anywhere near it.’

Pocock also explained that there are plans to influence the inflow of more Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) from British companies into Nigeria.

He said this after ringing the closing bell  at the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) in Lagos.

The United Kingdom is reviewing its plan to introduce a £3,000 visa bond scheme.

“We have made it very clear to our government in London that there is concern about this. So, this is being reviewed and considered in London as we speak now.” he said

He further said the visa bond is yet to be approved and if even its approved it will only apply to a very minute number of the over 150, 000 Nigerians that will apply for UK visas.

He also said while there were security concerns in Nigeria, they were not overwhelming in many respects and could be managed.

He said the British government will not jeopardize diplomatic ties with Nigeria with any move that will call the relationship between both nations to question.

The British government had proposed a new scheme under which some visitors from six commonwealth countries, including Nigeria, would be asked to pay a £3,000 cash bond in return for visas that allows them to stay in the UK for up to six months.

Other countries include India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Ghana.

Buddhist Mob Attacks Sri Lankan Mosque, 12 Injured

A Buddhist mob attacked a mosque in Sri Lanka’s capital and at least 12 people were injured, the latest in a series of attacks on the minority Muslim community by members of the Buddhist majority.

A mob of Buddhists, who are mainly ethnic Sinhalese in Sri Lanka, threw stones at a three-storey mosque and nearby houses in a central Colombo neighborhood during evening prayers on Saturday, residents told Reuters.

Later, hundreds of Muslim residents took to the streets, some clutching sticks, to prevent any further attacks on their community, witnesses said. Police reinforcements were sent and authorities imposed a curfew until Sunday morning.

A senior member of staff at one of the city’s main hospitals said 12 injured people, including two police officers, had been brought in. Three people were still in hospital on Sunday.

Police appealed for calm.

“Support the police to maintain the law and order,” Inspector General of Police N.K. Ilangakoon told state media.

There has been increasing violence against Muslims in Sri Lanka since last year, mirroring events in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, which has also seen a surge of attacks by members of the majority community against Muslims.

In Myanmar, hardline Buddhist monks have been at the forefront of campaigns against Muslims.

In Sri Lanka, a group known as Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), or the “Buddhist power force”, has been trying to win over Buddhists to their campaign against Muslims.

A spokesman for the BBS, Dilantha Vithanage, denied any involvement by his organization in the latest mosque attack.

Buddhists make up about 70 percent of Sri Lanka’s 20.3 million population. Muslims make up about 9 percent.

The mosque damaged in the Saturday night attack was only built a month ago after hardline Buddhists forced a nearby mosque to close.

The U.S. Embassy in Colombo said the incident was particularly troubling in light of a number of recent attacks against the Muslim community in Sri Lanka.

“Targeting any place of worship should never be permitted and we urge calm from all sides. We call for prosecution of perpetrators in this attack and an end to religious-based violence,” the embassy said in a statement.

N. M. Ameen, president of Sri Lanka Muslim Council, said more than 20 mosques had been attacked since last year.

In a separate incident, a hand grenade was thrown at a Buddhist temple in the Jaffna peninsula, on the northern tip of the island. There were no injuries, police said.

Jaffna is largely made of ethnic minority Tamil people, most of whom are Hindu and Christian. The area was fiercely contested in a 26-year war between government forces and Tamil separatists that ended in 2009.