Daily Archives: January 11, 2015

World leaders gather for Paris march honouring attack victims

Paris January 11, 2015. Reuters Dozens of world leaders including Muslim statesmen gathered in Paris on Sunday to join hundreds of thousands of French citizens set to march amid high security in an unpredecented tribute to victims of this week’s Islamist militant attacks.

Hours before the march, a video appeared online apparently made by one of the gunman before he took hostages at a Jewish supermarket on Friday, killing four before he himself was killed by police. He sat wearing white robes, a gun by his side.

Some 2,200 police and soldiers patrolled Paris streets to protect marchers from would-be attackers, with police snipers on rooftops and plain-clothes detectives mingling with the crowd. City sewers were searched ahead of the vigil and underground train stations around the march route are due to be closed down.

The silent march, starting at 3 p.m. (1400 GMT), reflects shock over the worst militant Islamist assault on a European city in nine years. For France, it raised questions of free speech, religion and security, and beyond French frontiers it exposed the vulnerability of states to urban attacks.

An Elysee official quoted President Francois Hollande as telling his ministers: “Paris is today the capital of the world. Our entire country will rise up and show its best side.”

Seventeen people, including journalists and police, were killed in three days of violence that began with a shooting attack on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday and ended with a hostage-taking at a Jewish deli in which four hostages were killed.

A video emerged featuring a man resembling the gunman killed in the kosher deli. He pledged allegiance to the Islamic State insurgent group and urged French Muslims to follow his example. A French anti-terrorist police source confirmed it was the killer, Amedy Coulibaly, speaking before the action.

Under a blue winter sky and bright sunshine, thousands gathered early to inspect wreaths for the victims on Place de la Republique, the square from which the march will head off through Paris later. Giant letters attached to a statue in the middle of the square spelt out “Pourquoi?” (“Why?”)

Overnight, an illuminated sign on the Arc de Triomphe read: “Paris est Charlie” (“Paris is Charlie”).

“I am here to show the terrorists they have not won – on the contrary, it is bringing people together of all religions,” said Zakaria Moumni, a 34-year-old Franco-Moroccan draped in the French flag.

Loris Peres, 12, there with his mother and brother, said: “For me this is like paying respect to your loved ones, as if it were family … We did a lesson about this at school.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Italy Prime Minister Matteo Renzi will be among 44 foreign leaders due to march with President Francois Hollande. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Turkish premier Ahmet Davutoglu and Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu – who earlier encouraged French Jews to emigrate to Israel – are expected.

“(The march) will be an unprecedented demonstration that will be go down in the history books,” Prime Minister Manuel Valls said.

Twelve people were killed in Wednesday’s initial attack on Charlie Hebdo, a journal know for satirising religions and politicians. The attackers, two French-born brothers of Algerian origin, singled out the weekly for its publication of cartoons depicting and ridiculing the Prophet Mohammad.

All three gunmen were killed in what local commentators have called “France’s 9/11”, a reference to the September 2001 attacks on U.S. targets by al Qaeda.

Across France on Saturday, hundreds of thousands of people took part in rallies. Many carried signs saying “Je suis Charlie” (I am Charlie).

The head of France’s 550,000-strong Jewish community, Roger Cukierman, the largest in Europe, said Hollande had promised that Jewish schools and synagogues would have extra protection, by the army if necessary, after the killings.

France’s Agence Juive, which tracks Jewish emigration, estimates more than 5,000 Jews left France for Israel in 2014, up from 3,300 in 2013, itself a 73 percent increase on 2012.

While there has been widespread solidarity with the victims, there have been dissenting voices. French social media have carried comments from those uneasy with the “Je suis Charlie” slogan interpreted as freedom of expression at all cost. Others suggest there was hypocrisy in world leaders whose countries have repressive media laws attending the march.

Far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen, whom analysts see receiving a boost in the polls due to the attacks, said her anti-immigrant party had been excluded from the Paris demonstration and would instead take part in regional marches.

In Germany, a rally against racism and xenophobia on Saturday drew tens of thousands of people in the eastern German city of Dresden, which has become the centre of anti-immigration protests organised by a new grassroots movement called PEGIDA.

Separately, a building of the newspaper Hamburger Morgenpost, which like many other publications has reprinted Charlie Hebdo cartoons, was the target of an arson attack and two suspects were arrested, police said on Sunday.

Turkish and French sources said a woman hunted by French police as a suspect in the attacks had left France several days before the killings and is believed to be in Syria.

French police had launched in an intensive search for Hayat Boumeddiene, the 26-year-old partner of one of the attackers, describing her as “armed and dangerous”.

But a source familiar with the situation said Boumeddiene left France last week and travelled to Syria via Turkey. A senior Turkish official corroborated that account, saying she passed through Istanbul on January 2.

IT

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Commonwealth observers notes flaws in Lanka’s prez poll

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Sri Lanka’s just-concluded presidential polls did not comply with all the key benchmarks for democratic elections, the Commonwealth observer team has said citing “unequal contest with extensive, large-scale abuse of state resources”.

In the absence of an independent Election Commission, Sri Lanka’s electoral framework does not provide for the basic conditions for democratic elections, the group said in an interim report on the January 8 polls.

“Outcome of the 2015 election reflected the will of the people of Sri Lanka. It is however the view of the Group that the inadequate electoral and legal framework coupled with an unequal pre-electoral environment means that this electoral contest did not comply with all the key benchmarks for democratic elections”.

The election campaign period was marked by an unequal contest with extensive, large-scale abuse of state resources, it said.

They noted comprehensive bias of state media against the campaign of Opposition Unity candidate; the use of military personnel and public officials to support the President’s campaign; the use of Government monies, gifts and other inducements; and the widespread use of state-owned public transport by the incumbent.

The report added that incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa’s challenger Maithripala Sirisena received little to no coverage in the state media in clear contravention of the provisions.

Significant instances of violence in the campaign period had credible links to political party office bearers and created an atmosphere of fear and intimidation with concerns about potential violence on election day.

Commenting on the polls day, the observers noted, Voters appeared to exercise their franchise freely with the bulk of voters turning out in the firs half of the day, allowing for a smooth and timely closing of the polls.

Vote counting was conducted transparently, with counting officials working diligently and with dedication into the early hours of the morning. Domestic observer groups were allowed access to vote counting centres for the first time at this election, the Commonwealth observers said.

In a stunning verdict, Lankan voters ousted Rajapaksa from power after a 10-year rule and chose in his place his one-time minister Maithripala Sirisena, who led a revolt and defected to the opposition camp on the eve of announcement of the elections.

DH

Sri Lanka’s new government to probe Rajapaksa’s ‘coup’ bid: Spokesman

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Colombo, Jan 11: Sri Lanka’s new government will probe whether longtime president Mahinda Rajapaksa sought military help to cling to power after he realised that he had lost the closely contested election, an official said on Sunday.

“The first thing the new cabinet will investigate is the coup and conspiracy by president Rajapaksa,” Mangala Samaraweera, a spokesman for the government led by President Maithripala Sirisena, told reporters here.

“He (Rajapaksa) stepped down only when the army chief and the police Inspector General refused to go along with him.” Rajapaksa, 69, was widely lauded for conceding defeat in the presidential election on Friday, even before the last votes had been counted.

“People think it was a peaceful transition. It was anything but,” Samaraweera said. Earlier, Rajitha Senaratne, the chief spokesman for the new president, said that Rajapaksa pressurised Army chief Lt Gen Daya Ratnayake to deploy troops after he lost election.

“The army chief was under pressure to deploy but he did not. He declined to do anything illegal,” said Senaratne. “Even in the last hour, he tried to remain in office. Only when he realised that he had no other option, he decided to go,” the spokesman said.

“We appreciate the straightforwardness of the Army Commander, Inspector General of Police and the Commissioner of Elections,” Senaratne said.

“They stood to uphold the democratic traditions for free and fair election”. There was no immediate comment from the military. However, Rajapaksa’s spokesman denied the claims as baseless.

“There was no such attempt at all,” said Mohan Samaranayake. “In fact, at 3:30 am on January 9 when the counting was still under way, the president made an assessment and decided what the results would be,” he was quoted as saying by BBC.

“Then he gave instructions to all secretaries about a smooth transfer of power… The politician who has made these remarks is in the habit of making baseless allegations,” he said.

PTI

German newspaper attacked for reprinting Charlie Hebdo cartoons

Berlin, Jan 11: After the France capital Paris was attacked for three consecutive days, there has been attack in the northern port city of Hamburg in Germany on Sunday.

According to TV reports, an arson took place in the German newspaper Hamburger MorgenPost as it reprinted the Prophet Mohammed cartoons, that were published by the French satirical weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo.

The attack took place in the courtyard of the newspaper building and some records in the archive section were destroyed, the German news agency DPA reported.

An AFP report said, “Rocks and then a burning object were thrown through the window”, while adding, “two rooms on lower floors were damaged but the fire was put out quickly.”

The German paper had published the cartoons on the front page, with headline as, “This much freedom must be possible!”

No injuries were reported. Two people have been reportedly detained in connection with the attack and an investigation has been launched.

MorgenPost is locally known as MoPo and has a circulation of around 91,000 copies.

The attack in Charlie Hebdo Headquarters had left at least 12 people dead including nine journalists and 2 policemen. Both men were killed Friday in a standoff with police.

OI

Sri Lanka to prosecute LTTE leader wanted in the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi

Colombo, Jan 11: Sri Lanka’s new government will prosecute a top LTTE leader who is wanted in the assassination of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, an official spokesman said on Saturday.

Kumaran Pathmanathan, who is better known as ‘KP’, was “arrested” by the then Sri Lankan government in August 2009 in a Southeast Asian nation and brought to Colombo where he was welcomed as a “VVIP” by then defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.

Newly-elected Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena’s top aide and spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said they were also trying to locate KP and investigating reports that he had fled the island. It had been alleged that Gotabhaya and the government of his brother and outgoing president Mahinda Rajapaksa had cut a deal with LTTE leaders to access their wealth abroad in exchange for safety and protection for the guerrillas.

Sri Lanka has resisted international moves to have KP extradited to India to face charges, but with the fall of the Rajapaksa regime, questions have risen about the fate of the LTTE leader.

“The information we have is that he was taken out of the country. He had used the VIP lounge so there is no record of him leaving,” Senaratne said adding that Colombo will prosecute him even if he had escaped abroad.

“There are several people from the Rajapaksa regime who have already fled the country, but we want to tell them that we can use the international police and have them brought back to Sri Lanka,” he said.

He said several men who led dirty tricks department of state-owned media to keep up a smear campaign against Sirisena and his aides had already fled the island.

PTI

Cabinet of Sri Lanka: 25 Ministers and 10 Deputy Ministers

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Cabinet of srilanka : 25 Ministers & 10 Deputy Ministers
1.Min of Finance : Dr. harsha Desilva
2.Min of Defence : General sarath Fonseka
3.Min of Health : Dr. Rajitha Senarathna
4.Min of education : Hon Kabeer hashim
5.Min of Housing & public Ammenities : Hon .Sajith Premadasa
6.Min of Trade & coperatives : Hon. Ravi karunanayka
7.Min of Foreign affairs : Hon. Mangala samaraweera
8.Min of media & Cabinet spokesperson : Hon. Gayantha Karunathilaka
9.Min of Power, Petroleum,Technology & reseach : Hon. Patalie champika ranawaka
10.Min of Justice & Legal affairs : Dr. Wijedasa Rajapaksha
11.Min of Tourism & Investment promotion : Hon. Faizer musathafa
12.Min of Ports & Avaiation :Hon. Rauff hakeem
13.Min of agriculture : Hon. Ranjith maddumabandra
14.Min of Transport & Highways : Hon. Karu jayasooriya
15.Min of Cultural,Womens & child affairs : Hon.Rosy senanayaka
16.Min of Plantation & Irrigation : Hon. Naveen Dissanayaka
17.Min of Sports & Youth affairs : Hon. Arjuna Ranathunga
18.Min of Fisheries & Disaster management: Hon.Rishad Badiyuddeen
19.Min of Postal, Telecommunication & information : Duminda Dissanayaka
20.Min.of labour affairs & foreign Employment : Hon. Niroshan Perera
21.Min.of Parlimetrary, Local government ,National management& reforms : Joeseph michel Perera
22.Min of social welfare & Disaster management : Hon.Lakshman Kiriella
23.Min of Cultural & religious Affairs : Hon.John Amarathunga
24.Min of Languages, Social integration Resettlement & Peace : Hon. M.A.Sumandhiran
25.Min of Traditional industries,Export promotion & vocational Development :M.K.D.S.Gunawardana
Deputy Ministers
1.Dep min of Finance : Eran wickramarathna
2.Dep min of education : Akila Viraj kariyawasam
3.Dep min of Health : Buddika Pathirana
4.Dep Min of Media : Hon. Sujeewa Senasinghe
5.Dep min of foreign Affairs : Hon. Ruwan wijewardana
6.Dep Min of Justice & legal affairs : Hon.Ajith P. Perera
7.Dep min of Fisheries : Hon.Palaitha Rangebandara
8.Dep min of Highways & transport ; Hon.Ajith mannapperuma
9.Dep min. of Labour & foreign Employment : Hon. Ranjan ramanayak
10.Dep Min of plantaion & Irrigation : Hon. P. Digambaram

Sri Lanka press welcome Sirisena, shun fallen strongman

Colombo: Sri Lanka’s press showed rare unity today in giving the thumbs up to new President Maithripala Sirisena who had promised to restore media freedom and lift censorship on websites.

“MS in stunning win over MR,” the Island newspaper said in a headline referring to Sirisena’s victory over incumbent Mahinda Rajapakse who conceded defeated even before the final results were released yesterday.

The paper noted that the transfer of power was smooth and the post-election period was unusually peaceful in a country known for violence before, during and after national elections in the past.

The state-run Daily News, which had led a vituperative campaign against Sirisena, made a volte face today to praise the new president and relegated Rajapakse to a stamp-size photo at the bottom of the front page.

Just a day earlier, the Daily News had said that a victory of Sirisena “seems to be a figment of the imaginations of various interested parties”.

The Sinhalese-language Dinamina, which is also state-run, carried a banner headline saying Sirisena’s win was a “Stunning Victory”. The new administration is yet to take control of state-owned media outlets.

Sirisena’s new Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told reporters yesterday that they are “free to report whatever you want without the fear of being abducted”. He said a pro ramme of Internet censorship enforced by the former regime was also being lifted.

The Sinhalese Lakbima paper hailed Rajapakse’s swift departure from his official residence yesterday, a move that cleared the way for a peaceful transition.

“His stepping down is a good start for a new political culture,” the paper said, splashing photos of Sirisena and his family on the front page.

The private Daily Mirror, which had supported Sirisena during the campaign, said it expected him to be a “promise keeper”.

“President Sirisena, you rise to great heights if you are a promise keeper and not just a promise maker.”

The English-language Island noted that Sirisena had urged his supporters to refrain from harming the vanquished and said the call was magnanimous.

Sirisena’s election were marred by firebomb and shooting attacks that left at least one dead and scores injured.

Sirisena referred to the violence in his address to the nation shortly after being sworn in, but urged restraint.

FPJ

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