Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka Proposals for Constitutional Reform – 2016

The HRCSL is of the view that deepening constitutional protection of human rights requires much more than the incorporation of a substantively rich constitutional Bill of Rights into a future constitution. Two critically important dimensions that require attention in the reform process are:

a) the guaranteeing of a sound system of separation of powers and checks and balances;
b) strong regulation of the public security regime
Specific Proposals
1. Constitutional Principles
Foundational constitutional principles must be articulated either in the preamble to the
constitution or as a substantive provision:
Sovereignty of the people should be foundation of governance
Transparency and accountability of governance
Supremacy of the constitution
Respect for pluralism, equality of dignity and inherent human rights of the people as individuals and as groups
Respect for religious freedom of all
Respect for social justice
Power sharing
Protection of the rights of future generations with special emphasis on environmental protection including protection of all animal species

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Human Rights Commission Emphasizes On Need To Incorporate Economic, Social And Cultural Rights In New Constitution

While expressing its deep concern over attempts made by some quarters closely associated with the current constitution-making process to prevent the inclusion of economic, social and cultural rights (ESC rights), the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) has called on President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and members of the Constitutional Assembly to ensure the incorporation of economic, social and cultural rights in the future constitutional chapter on rights as ‘fully protected rights.’

“The HRCSL is deeply concerned by attempts made by some quarters closely associated with the current constitution-making process to prevent the inclusion of economic, social and cultural rights (ESC rights), such as the right to education and an adequate standard of health, from the constitutional Bill of Rights as full-fledged rights for which judicial remedies are available. It has been argued that only civil and political rights should be guaranteed as full rights,” HRCSL said.

“The HRCSL, the primary institution charged with the protection and promotion of human rights in the country, rejects this artificial division of human rights. lt calls on the Constitutional Assembly to ensure that the people’s rights are fully guaranteed in the future Constitution. Failure to do so would seriously impede full protection of human rights and undermine the legitimacy of the new Constitution in the eyes of the public. lt is the opinion of the HRCSL that such a move would also amount to a violation of international human rights obligations undertaken by Sri Lanka,” the Commission said.

ln March of this year, the HRCSL made submissions before the Public Representations Committee on its proposals for constitutional reform. The proposals were sent to the Hon. Prime Minister and the Hon. Speaker and were made available to the public in Sinhala, Tamil and English. ln its proposals, the HRCSL endorsed the Draft Charter of Rights completed in 2009 for inclusion in the new constitution of Sri Lanka. The Charter, formulated by a group of experts appointed by an inter-ministerial committee guarantees not only civilian and political rights but also economic, social and cultural rights as full-fledged rights capable of attracting judicial remedies.

“The HRCSL proposals also emphasized the need to, among other things, recognize the promotion of social justice as a fundamental constitutional principle. lt reiterated the importance of incorporating a strong system of checks and balances, including judicial review of legislation to ensure the effect protection of people’s rights. Above all, the need to recognize the principle of supremacy of the constitution was underscored,” the commission said.

“The HRCSL proposals were made fully conscious of the unique opportunity this moment presents for Sri Lanka, especially as a post-war society, to acquire a modern constitution that addresses concerns of its people within a strong democratic State structure. This is a moment to right the wrongs of the past, and forge ahead to create a new Sri Lanka that is humane and just, as much as it is prosperous. Protection of the rights of the people in a strong and holistic manner is critical to achieving those goals. The post conflict constitutions of South Africa, Kenya and Nepal, for example, are illustrative of such efforts. Sri Lanka too should follow suit and not miss out on this unique opportunity,” the Commission said.

Human Rights Commission Emphasizes On Need To Incorporate Economic, Social And Cultural Rights In New Constitution

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U.N. official urges Sri Lanka to take stronger measures to protect minorities

By Shihar Aneez | COLOMBO

Sri Lanka’s government must “clearly demonstrate” its political will and commitment to better protect the Indian Ocean island’s minorities by taking urgent steps to resolve post-war issues, a United Nations rights expert said on Thursday.

Since the end of a 26-year war in May 2009, successive Sri Lankan governments have yet to take strong action to ensure minority rights.

Several religious places were attacked during the tenure of former leader Mahinda Rajapaksa, defeated in a January 2015 election by President Maithripala Sirisena.

Sirisena’s Sri Lanka Freedom Party, once Rajapaksa’s power base, now governs in coalition with the United National Party (UNP), led by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

A visit by Rita Izsak-Ndiaye, the UN special rapporteur on minority issues, comes amid complaints of rights violations by ethnic minority Tamils and Muslims.

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Islamic Schools: The Panacea?

by Tariq Ramadan

In order to win the struggle for a comprehensive education, many Muslims think that the only solution is the creation of private “Islamic schools,” subsidized by the state almost totally, partially, or not at all, depending on the systems in force in the United States and the various countries of Europe. For people who are dissatisfied with the educational methods and curricula, and deeply mistrustful of the atmosphere in public schools, which they consider to be lacking in morality, the answer seems to be to consider a parallel system that would integrate the fundamentals of Islamic education and its moral standards with the compulsory traditional and secular subjects from the national curricula. Schools of this type have been in existence for more than twenty years in Britain, the United States, Canada, Sweden, and the Netherlands, as well as in smaller numbers in other countries. How can we assess these experiments, whose achievements in terms of methods and curricula have undergone considerable evolution in recent years?

It is the intention here not to oppose Islamic schools in principle but to note what has been attained by these institutions and what they lack. It goes without saying that offering children a body of teaching in which they have a sense of their Islamic identity through living their education in accordance with the rhythm of the daily prayers and the events of the Muslim calendar (e.g., the Ramadan fast, the feasts), while immersing them in a school program in which their religious education—learning the Qur’an, tradition, and Arabic—is integrated has an extremely positive effect. In an Islamic school, children understand the essentials of their Muslim identity and the priorities of their upbringing through their relationships with their teachers and fellow-pupils and also acquire the tools that will help them to succeed in the other disciplines. To judge from performance indicators, most Islamic schools produce excellent statistics and are often at the top of regional and national school tables.

However, this is not the complete picture. The first comment to be made is that, taking the Muslim communities living in the West as a whole, these schools take in only a very small percentage of children, and so in this sense they can hardly be regarded as “the solution” for Islamic education in the West. Other approaches have to be found for the other children. It must also be pointed out that in most cases (those in which the schools are not heavily subsidized by the state,—that is, up to 75 percent, depending on the country), only the children of affluent parents are able to enroll because fees are high, often above the very limited scholarships. And beyond these measurable realities, we should study the motivations that have often been behind the creation of these schools. In most cases, the purpose has been to protect the children from the bad influence of society, to distance them from an unhealthy environment, and make them live “among Muslims.” These motivations often make themselves felt in the way in which these schools are run, with their programs and educational activities all run internally. The result is that “artificially Islamic” closed spaces are created in the West that are almost completely cut off from the surrounding society. We comfort ourselves by asserting that the programs are in line with national requirements, but what is no less a reality is that these young people live in a society surrounded by adolescents who do not share their faith and whom they never meet. The school puts forward a way of life, a space, and a parallel reality that has practically no link with the society around it. Some Islamic schools are in the West but, apart from the compulsory disciplines, live in another dimension: while being not completely “here,” neither are they completely from “there,” and one would like the child to know who he is . . .

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Sri Lanka In US – Tel Aviv – New Delhi Axis

By Latheef Farook –

Sri Lanka’s abstention from voting on UNESCO resolution on Israeli atrocities on Masjid Al Aqsa: Insults island’s Muslims and Muslims worldwide

On Thursday 13 October 2016 Sri Lanka, once a strong defender of brutalised Palestinian rights, abstained from voting on UNESCO resolution which deprecated Israeli violations in and around the al-Haram al-Sharif, Masjid Al Aqsa, compound in the occupied Old City of Jerusalem al-Quds.

This shocking U Turn in the island’s once proud and respected neutral foreign policy, insults the island’s Muslims and around 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide who always stood by the island especially during times of adversity though successive governments and the mainstream media failed to recognise or appreciate.

israeli-violations-in-and-around-the-al-haram-al-sharif-masjid-al-aqsa-compound-in-the-occupied-old-city-of-jerusalem-al-qudsSri Lanka’s abstention in favour of Israeli atrocities demonstrated the bankruptcy of the crisis ridden Yahapalanaya government’s short sighted foreign policy of blindly aligning with US and thereby being indifferent to all US led European Israeli war crimes on Muslims worldwide.

What was further shocking is that in its drive to please US and Israel, the government has dismissed the Muslim community’s unstinted support which played a decisive role in bringing UNP government to power after losing more than two dozen elections.

In its resolution UNESCO, (UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) has strongly condemned “the escalating Israeli aggression, its illegal measures and called on “Israel, the occupying power, to respect the historic status quo and to immediately stop these measures.”

The resolution also criticized the “continuous storming of Haram al-Sharif by the Israeli right-wing extremists and uniformed forces. “The resolution ignored Jewish ties to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall, used only Muslim names for the Jerusalem Old City holy sites and was harshly critical of Israel for what it termed “provocative abuses that violate the sanctity and integrity” of the area.

The resolution starts by affirming the “importance of the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls for the three monotheistic religions,” but then goes on to accuse Israel — which it consistently calls “the occupying power” — of a long list of wrongdoings. The text “firmly deplores the continuous storming” of the Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram AL Sharif — Muslim names for the Temple Mount compound and the mosque located there — “by Israeli right-wing extremists and uniformed forces.”

It also decries Israeli works in the Western Wall Plaza, which it terms the al-Burak plaza after the Muslim name for the site.

Masjid Al Aqsa remains the third holiest place in Islam after Masjid al-Haram in Mecca and Masjid al-Nabawi in Medina. Thus is it is dear to the hearts of every Muslim in the world. Ever since Israel occupied Jerusalem in June 1967 war of aggression Israel has unleashed unprecedented violence against Palestinian worshippers to Al Aqsa.

According to Ma’am News Agency “Palestinians come under routine fierce attacks as they attempt with their bare hands, sticks and stones to prevent repeated violent assaults by Israeli occupation forces into Jerusalem’s mosque compound. The violence comes as Israeli-backed Jewish extremist groups bent on destroying Al Aqsa mosque, and construct a Jewish “Third Temple” in its place.

Israeli forces injuring worshippers by firing stun grenades, tear gas canisters and rubber-coated steel bullets remain a daily occurrence. The Jerusalem Municipality and government ministries directly fund and support these extremists showing the official support to this hooliganism.

One tactic Israel has used more frequently to facilitate the incursions is to issue banning orders against Palestinian volunteers whose goal is to maintain a constant presence at the compound.
The next step many fear could be a physical partition of the compound between Jews and Muslims, following the model Israel imposed on the Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron after the 1994 massacre by an American-born Jewish settler who killed 29 Palestinian men and boys who were performing Ramadan prayers.

The UNESCO resolution is to uphold justice and condemn the lawlessness and atrocities of the Israeli occupation forces.

Under such circumstance abstaining from voting for this resolution means the Sri Lankan government has dismissed justice and discarded the just cause of Palestinians and Muslims worldwide in its drive to support Israeli lawlessness and barbarity. The irony is that Israel is an entity established in violation of all moral, legal and ethical principles cherished by humanity throughout the ages has committed more than 60 massacres of Palestinians.

Sri Lanka’s abstention is not something unexpected in view of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s pro-western mind-set. In fact he was one of the few prime ministers in the world who refused to condemn America’s illegal invasion and destruction of oil rich Iraq in 2003 and the massacre of more than a million and half innocent Iraqi.

It was said by many that when UNP Muslim parliamentarians tried to condemn the American invasion of Iraq Mr Wickremasinghe had asked them to do so after leaving the government.
In the 1960s and 1970s Sri Lankan voice was highly respected in all third world forums for its support to oppressed people worldwide in their struggle for freedom. Under the circumstance the need of the hour is to reestablish the image of Sri. This cannot be achieved by rolling red carpet to war criminals.

For more than six decades Israelis tried many time to sneak into the island but were expelled time and again by successive Sri Lankan government.

It was defeated President Mahinda Rajapaksa, so called champion of Palestinians rights, opened the door for Zionist presence here. Zionists grabbed the opportunity. They got President Mahinda Rajapaksa, then Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake and a parliamentary delegation led by then Leader of the House Nimal Sripala De Silva to visit Israel. Since then several ministers and top officials visited Israel. Certainly a great achievement for Israel.

This policy continues with greater intensity today. Since assuming office the UNP led government has opened the island to Zionist Jews whose global agenda is to destroy and eliminate Islam and Muslims worldwide. Under such circumstance they are not here to help Sri Lanka in any way but to implement their designs which would turn the country into a killing field.

They are so successful that they got even President Maithripala Sirisena to visit the holocaust museum in Germany- exploited by Zionist Jews as a weapon to win sympathy to establish their racist state of Israel in Palestine with US-European support. Perhaps President Sirisena was not aware of the seriousness and the implications of this visit.

The present international political scenario is for US, Britain and Europe to destroy the Middle East, under the guise of fighting war on terrorism, to create Greater Israel. The RSS government in India whose declared agenda is to eliminate Islam and Muslims from India has joined US-European-Israeli – Axis.

Indications are that Sri Lanka is also being absorbed into this Axis.

However despite Sri Lanka throwing its weight behind this AXIS the island was not flooded with foreign investment. Instead continues to depend on remittance mainly from Sri Lankan expatriates from the Gulf state without which the economy may even collapse.

Sri Lanka In US – Tel Aviv – New Delhi Axis

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Israel’s false spin on UNESCO Jerusalem vote

Charlotte Silver 15 October 2016

A Palestinian man shows foam-tipped bullets reportedly used by Israeli riot police outside the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque compound after clashes erupted at the compound between Palestinians and Israeli police on June 26, 2016 during the holy month of Ramadan. Israeli police at Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque compound clashed with Muslims protesting Jewish visits there as the Islamic holy month of Ramadan approached its climax, Palestinians said. Photo by Mahfouz Abu Turk

A Palestinian man standing in front of the Dome of the Rock holds up munitions fired by Israeli occupation forces at Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque compound, on 26 June, during the fasting month of Ramadan. Mahfouz Abu TurkAPA images

Israel suspended cooperation with UNESCO on Friday following the UN cultural and scientific organization’s adoption of a resolution strongly criticizing Israel’s aggressive actions in and around the Al-Aqṣa mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem.

Despite heavy lobbying against the motion by Israeli ambassadors around the world, the resolution passed by 24-6 with another 26 governments abstaining.

The US, UK, Germany, Lithuania, Estonia and the Netherlands voted against the resolution, while Russia and China backed it.

Israeli government officials are claiming the motion denies a Jewish connection to the historical site, which includes the Western Wall, despite no explicit language in the motion suggesting such denial.
Israel’s agenda appears to be to assert sovereignty over the site.

Significantly, Israel’s effort to gain a symbolic and perhaps legal foothold at the site through UN resolutions comes as groups that call for the destruction of the al-Aqsa mosque and its replacement with a Jewish Temple are intensifying their activities, often with Israeli government funding and support.

Critics have pointed to the motion’s exclusive reference to the site by the name “al-Aqsa mosque/al-Haram al-Sharif” as evidence that the resolution denies any Jewish connection or reverence for the site, which Jews call the Temple Mount.

In April, UNESCO passed a similar resolution that came under almost identical criticism.

France voted in favor of that resolution, but subsequently repudiated its support after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote a letter of protest to French President François Hollande.

Denouncing illegal actions, not denying ties
In fact, the resolution passed by UNESCO affirms “the importance of the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls for the three monotheistic religions,” while calling on Israel to restore the historic status quo of the al-Aqsa mosque compound by returning full authority to the Jordanian Waqf – the institution that has managed it.

Until the outbreak of the second intifada in 2000, the Jordanian Waqf exercised all maintenance and control over the sacred site.

While the actual compound is still under the authority of the Waqf, its perimeter is controlled by Israel, and Israeli forces make frequent incursions into it.

While undertaking development and archaeological projects around it that threaten the foundation of al-Aqsa, Israel severely restricts Palestinian and Muslim access to the holy site.

The resolution condemns “the escalating Israeli aggressions and illegal measures against the [Waqf] and its personnel, and against the freedom of worship and Muslims’ access to their holy site al-Aqsa Mosque/al-Haram al-Sharif, and requests Israel, the occupying power, to respect the historic status quo and to immediately stop these measures.”

It also denounces Israel’s excavations and demolitions of ancient structures in and around the Old City, the storming of the compound by right-wing extremists and uniformed forces, damage to buildings by Israeli forces and obstruction to needed renovations.

The resolution criticizes Israel’s plans to build a cable car system in East Jerusalem and the so-called Kedem Center in the Palestinian neighborhood Silwan.

The UNESCO vote comes at a time when Israel has supported a surge in private settlement activity in the heart of occupied East Jerusalem.

New data show that the number of Jewish settlers in the area surrounding the al-Aqsa compound has increased by 70 percent since 2009. During that same time period, 60 Palestinian families have been evicted, 55 of them in the last two years alone, according to the Israeli nongovernmental organization Ir Amim.

Israeli spin
Netanyahu led the chorus of condemnation of the resolution.

“To say that Israel has no connection to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall is like saying that China has no connection to the Great Wall of China and that Egypt has no connection to the Pyramids,” Netanyahu said on Thursday.
Netanyahu’s choice of words is significant: he is asserting that the Israeli state, rather than the Jewish religion, has a “connection” to these sites, which are in the occupied West Bank.

Getting such a “connection” written into UN resolutions would for Israel be a step toward asserting sovereignty over them.

Isaac Herzog, leader of the Israeli opposition, said: “Whoever wants to rewrite history, to distort fact, and to completely invent the fantasy that the Western Wall and Temple Mount have no connection to the Jewish people, is telling a terrible lie that only serves to increase hatred.”

Taking their cue from government spin, Israel advocates have perpetuated the idea that the motion was an attack on Jews’ reverence for the site.

The Tel Aviv newspaper Haaretz ran a news story with the grossly misleading headline that “UNESCO backs motion nullifying Jewish ties to Temple Mount.”

Tablet Magazine’s Yair Rosenberg described the UNESCO decision as “a blatantly anti-Semitic resolution erasing Jewish ties to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site.”

“To expunge the Jewish connection to Jerusalem is to deny the very cultural heritage of Jerusalem,” the US-based Anti-Defamation League said.

Even UNESCO’s director general, Irina Bokova, has also piled on criticism, stating: “Different peoples worship the same places, sometimes under different names. The recognition, use of and respect for these names is paramount.”
Anger over the resolution reached the US presidential campaign, with both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton issuing sharp condemnations.

The Palestinian Authority released a statement welcoming the resolution that was sponsored by Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar and Sudan, saying the decision to adopt it reflected the “continued commitment of the majority of member states to confront impunity and uphold the principles upon which UNESCO was founded.”
Ali Abunimah contributed reporting.

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Join the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement

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Art festival explores Palestinian right of return

Ramallah, occupied West Bank – For the majority of Palestinians, the concept of “return” is intrinsically linked to the right of return for millions of Palestinian refugees in the diaspora.

There are approximately eight million Palestinians who are “forcibly displaced persons”, according to the BADIL Resource Centre, a Palestinian NGO. However, on both national and international levels there remains a lack of political will and tangible action towards redressing the issue.

Amid this grim reality, the third edition of the Qalandiya International contemporary arts biennial has taken place across historic Palestine and internationally.

Although Qalandiya International explores concepts of “return” in various Palestinian and international contexts – which is particularly significant amid a global refugee crisis – the biennial’s curatorial statement begins with the question: “Can a word carry the cure to all the ailments, both past and present, of a tragedy? For us Palestinians, return has become the core antithesis to our Nakba.”

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Who’s Afraid of BDS?

by Mark Mondalek

The call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel approached its ten-year anniversary this past July, and despite humble beginnings the movement has gained significant global traction. Last June a “secret” anti-BDS summit was reportedly held in Las Vegas, while a Haaretz opinion column predicted that the “age of BDS” had officially begun.

The secretive closed-door summit was hosted by Sheldon Adelson — a billionaire casino magnate who once referred to Palestinians as “an invented people” — at his luxury hotel and casino, the Venetian. Early reports estimated the roughly two dozen mega-donors and fifty organizations in attendance raised at least $20 million.

The report tracks eleven major donors and their foundations — the Newton D. and Rochelle F. Becker Foundation, the Sarah Scaife Foundation, the Koret Foundation, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Foundation, the Klarman Family Foundation, the Russel Berrie Foundation, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, the Sheldon Adelson Family Foundation, the Koch Brothers, the Moskowitz Foundation, and the Fairbrook Foundation — which hold a combined $10 billion in assets (not including their private wealth and individual giving) and use these funds to sponsor anti-Palestine, anti-Muslim activities in the US and abroad.

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All you need to know about Muslim Divorce & Triple Talaq

By Mirza Yawar Baig, The Milli Gazette Online

Published Online: Oct 09, 2016

The current controversy about triple Talaq in India proves that inaction can also produce results, albeit not the ones you may like to see. The basic principle in Islamic jurisprudence is to go to the Book of Allahﷻ- the Qur’an and the Sunnah (teachings) of Muhammadﷺthe Prophet of Islam in case of any question in Islamic Law. That is all that we need to do in this case and it will become abundantly clear if triple Talaq in one sitting is a practice that must be insisted upon or abandoned in favour of what the Qur’an and Sunnah direct.

Islam came as a liberating force to take people out of slavery to their desires and make them obedient to Allahﷻ, their Creator. The most enslaved of people were (and sadly continue to be) women. In the days before Islam, women were commodities to be bought, sold and inherited. Islamput a stop to all thatin the 5th century itself. Islam asserted the individuality, integrity and power of women. Islam made them absolute owners of their property with their husbands having no right in it. Islam made them absolute owners of their person with the right to choose their husbands and to leave them even if the husband didn’t want it. Today in the 21st century, we live in a world where to this day, women in America and Europe are paid 80% of what men are paid, for the same work. Yet it is Islam which our media portrays as being backward.

It is not in the scope of this article to talk about the rights that Islam gives women, but the reality is that though Islam gives women their rights, it is Muslim men who deny them. Every single one of the violations of women’s rights that is happening in the world is traceable to men and patriarchal societies the world over. The triple Talaq issue is one such. I submit therefore that it is not the media but Muslim men who are responsible for the bad rap that Islam gets thanks to their behavior.

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