China condemns US House approval of bill on Hong Kong

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF COMMUNIST CHINA’S ‘SHINE’ NEWS NETWORK)

 

China condemns US House approval of bill on Hong Kong: spokesperson

Xinhua

China on Wednesday expressed strong indignation and firm opposition to the US House of Representatives’ passing of the so-called Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act 2019, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson said in a press statement.

What Hong Kong faces at present is not the so-called human rights and democracy issues, but the issue of ending violence and chaos, restoring order and upholding the rule of law as soon as possible, spokesperson Geng Shuang said in the statement.

By neglecting the truth and turning white to black, the US House of Representatives called arson, smashing of shops, and violently assaulting police officers as human rights and freedom, which is a stark double standard that fully exposes some Americans’ extreme hypocrisy on human rights and democracy and their malicious intentions to damage the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and contain China’s development, Geng said.

The United States also has important interests in Hong Kong, he said.

“Should the act eventually come into law, it will not only harm the interests of China and the China-US relations, but also severely undermine the interests of the United States,” Geng said.

China will definitely take forceful countermeasures against the wrong decision of the US side in order to firmly safeguard its own sovereignty, security and development interests, the spokesperson said.

“Hong Kong belongs to China and its affairs are purely China’s domestic affairs that brook no foreign interference,” he reiterated.

“We advise the US side to get a clear understanding of the situation, rein in on the brink of the precipice immediately, and cease to promote the subsequent deliberation of the act and interfere in Hong Kong affairs and China’s internal affairs immediately,” Geng said.

get the US nowhere

The Office of the Commissioner of the Chinese foreign ministry in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region expressed strong indignation over some US politicians’ actions of passing Hong Kong-related bills at the US House, warning that playing Hong Kong as a card will get the United States nowhere.

Some US politicians have kept bent on passing Hong Kong-related bills including the so-called “Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019,” ignoring the facts and confounding right with wrong. By doing so, they have openly endorsed anti-China troublemakers in Hong Kong, tested the red line of the “one country, two systems” principle, grossly interfered with Hong Kong affairs and China’s internal affairs as a whole, and trampled upon international law and basic norms governing international relations, the commissioner’s office said in a statement.

“We express strong indignation over and condemn such actions, which have again exposed the politicians’ gangster logic and hegemonic mindset,” it said.

Brazil: “While Lula is in prison there is no democracy in Brazil”

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF BRAZIL’S 247 NEWS)

 

Celso Amorim: “While Lula is in prison there is no democracy in Brazil”

“Sovereignty today is popular sovereignty, which implies democracy. Democracy today in Brazil has a main name: Lula. While Lula is in prison there is no democracy in Brazil. So that we can return to a rational discourse and debate in the country, Lula Livre! “emphasized former minister Celso Amorim

247 – In an interview with the Tutaméia website, former Minister Celso Amorim, ambassador, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lula and of Dilma Defense, analyzed the current national and international political conjuncture. Amorim countered the Jair Bolsonaro government’s speech on sovereignty and stressed that “sovereignty and democracy are inseparable.”

“Sovereignty today is popular sovereignty, which implies democracy. Democracy today in Brazil has a main name: Lula. While Lula is in prison there is no democracy in Brazil. So that we can return to a rational discourse and debate in the country, Lula Livre! “emphasized the former minister.

Regarding the international crisis generated by the burning of the Amazon, Celso Amorim pointed out that “Amazonia is a national responsibility for a global problem” and that Bolsonaro has a false view of sovereignty when dealing with the issue,

“There is a misappropriation of the term sovereignty in the case of the Amazon. We cannot fall into the trap of accepting that the concept of sovereignty is used to justify improper actions, contrary to our own laws, our constitution and also international commitments that the country has made. ”He said.

Amorin said he was not in favor of international status for the Amazon, as Macron suggested, “but it was Bolsonaro who caused it by making the Amazon issue a worldwide scandal.” 

The former minister also repelled the Bolsonaro government’s subservience to US dictates. “What exists today is mental colonialism. Minds are busy. So it’s ideal. You don’t spend any bullets and even the uniforms of the Marines and dominate. Brazil has never had such an explicit subordination to the US.”

Check out the full interview in Tutaméia .

Meet the TV 247

Brazil: Focus of political struggle should be the defense of sovereignty, says Lula

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF BRAZIL’S 247 NEWS)

 

Focus of political struggle should be the defense of sovereignty, says Lula

“Raduan has synthesized very well what the president wants to be the watchword of all Brazilian Democrats: to fight with every possible means to defend national sovereignty, whether material, pre-salt, Embraer or humanistic. ”Said writer Fernando Morais, while reporting his meeting and writer Raduan Nassar with former president

Squid
Lula (Photo: Ricardo Stuckert)

By Henrique Nunes from PT News Agency

It must be acknowledged that an encounter between a biographer, a writer, and a popular leader held in political prison for a crime he never committed was unlikely to happen by chance. It must also be admitted that only someone of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva ‘s greatness would motivate the visit of leading names in national culture such as biographer Fernando Morais and writer Raduan Nassar .

Both had already met the former president in the unfair prison, but separately. On Thursday (8), however, they joined the Federal Police headquarters with an even greater mission: to deliver to Lula the letter of representatives of the Association of Judges for Democracy (AJD) in defense of their immediate release and for the restoration of Brazilian democracy . .

With the literary verve that consecrated him, Morais philosophizes about the task received from the judges and judges who sign the document – written before the intimidating attempt to transfer Lulafrom Curitiba to São Paulo . “Lula was very touched by the letter. Nietzsche and Paulo Coelho said that there are no coincidences. Not by chance this letter was delivered by me and Raduan the next day of a new violence against Lula (…) We fulfill with great honor and joy the task that you ( juristsand judges ) gave us ”, explains the biographer, whose next The book will be precisely about Lula’s two political prisons in 1980 and the current one.

Known for his concise frank speech, Raduan went straight to the point: “I found the president extraordinarily determined to fight for Brazil’s sovereignty. Free squid ASAP! Lula is a politically arrested president and this is unbearable for all of us. ”

The struggle for national sovereignty, by the way, is one of Lula’s most avid wishes and has the unconditional support of Fernando Morais . “Raduan has synthesized very well what the president wants to be the watchword of all Brazilian Democrats: to fight with every possible means to defend national sovereignty, whether material, pre-salt , Embraer or humanistic. ”Reiterates the writer, for whom the support of jurists is the most perfect“ translation to Brazil of which there are judges and judges ”.

China: 30 years after the Tiananmen Square Massacre

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

A duty to remember: 30 years after Tiananmen

Installation made by Taiwanese artist Shake, and inspired by the photo of Tank Man displayed in central Taipei. Photo by Filip Noubel, used with permission.

It has been 30 years since the rise and fall of the 89 Democracy Movement (八九民运) in China that culminated in the infamous Tiananmen Square Massacre on June 4, 1989.

On that day, the Chinese military carried out a brutal crackdown on student-led demonstrations calling for democratic reforms. The Chinese Red Cross estimated that 2,700 civilians were killed, but other sources point to a much higher toll. A confidential US government document unveiled in 2014 reported that a Chinese internal assessment estimated that at least 10,454 civilians were killed.

The Communist Party of China has never publicly acknowledged these events or accounted for its actions with an independent investigation. There are no references to the 89 Democracy Movement in any history textbooks and most university students in China have never heard about the massacre.

Global Voices has been covering the issue for over a decade. This year we commemorate the 30th anniversary of what led to the June 4 massacre to fulfill our duty to keep the memory of those events alive, despite continuous efforts by Beijing to deny basic historical truth.

Beijing’s determination to censor any mention or veiled reference to June 4 has resulted in a perpetual game of cat and mouse taking place online. In April, a foreign ad featuring images of the Tank Man circulated briefly on Chinese social media before being suppressed. Another of our stories explains how Chinese netizens play with censorship and come up with creative ways to allude to the event without mentioning it by its name. All of this in an environment where obtain information that is not filtered by China’s Great Firewall of online censorship has become very dangerous and almost impossible.

Expressing critical views on social media platforms outside of China also poses a personal risk, as you can read in this story. And expressing alternative views not aligned with the Party’s line, even if embedded in Marxism, usually results in harassment and arrest, as we describe here. This draconian censorship is being exported worldwide by Beijing, including to Hong Kong.

Yet the duty to remember continues to inspire people and netizens across the globe. Direct witnesses speak up in emotional interviews, while brave journalists in Hong Kong tell their own stories about June 4. Global netizens, including reddit users, also use humor, art, and online memes to keep the memory of the Chinese pro-democracy movement alive.

Putin And Limbaugh: Founding Brothers Of Far Right Hate?

Putin And Limbaugh: Founding Brothers Of Far Right Hate?

 

When anyone writes an article or a letter all they are really doing is giving their opinion on the subject matter they are writing about.  I believe that this is so, unless the writer is purposely lying in trying to get you to believe what is not the truth, as they believe it to be. Truth, what if the writer is simply telling the Truth you may say? Whose version of the truth though? To me, there is only one version of ‘The Truth’ and that is when it is by the lips of G-d Himself. You see, that is 100% Truth. Human versions of truth are flawed when we lack 100% knowledge of the issue, or when a person tries to ‘slant the truth’ to fit their own agendas. A good example would be a politician who says they are telling the truth when in deed only 1% is truth and 99% is BS. They can then say that they told the truth, the exception to this rule would have to be someone like our President who doesn’t have a clue about reality at all. When you have an habitual liar as your country’s Leader, you have a dictator for a president. Here in the U.S. we have a ‘wanna-be’ Dictator right now, unlike Russia, they have the real thing.

 

Here in the U.S. we have a lot of the responsibility of having helped bring Mr. Putin to power in Russia! Think about it, Hollywood, Nation Media and many of our Politicians started in on Russia bashing almost as soon as the Wall fell in late 1989. We portrayed Russia and her people as ignorant, inept and lazy. We (Hollywood, Media, Politicians) stepped all over the personal and National Pride of this Nation and Her people. Folks it is we who helped bring this mass murdering Dictator onto the Russian National scene. He did what a Dictator does if they want to stay in power, they get the military and the security agencies on their side, then they take control of all the Media outlets and then they use them against their own people. Now the people of Russia are the only ones who should remove their Monster. Ultra Nationalists are by my belief ‘far-right.’ Far-Right just like far-Left refuse to compromise and if you are a Dictator you don’t have to compromise. Also, I believe that ‘extremists’ are by their nature, hate filled. Hate filled people tend to refuse any compromise on anything. Personally I do believe that Mr. Putin is one of these type of persons. Yet I ask you a question, which is better, a rather intelligent Dictator or a wanna-be Dictator who is a total imbecile?

 

Now, I would like to bring up the second subject in this letter to you tonight, Rush Limbaugh. I first started hearing of Mr. Limbaugh back when Bush Senior was our President so that would have been 1989-93. In my opinion he was so far to ‘the-right’ that he was almost comical but when he picked up a following of far-right ‘Haters’ he was no longer humorous. Mr. Limbaugh is a very smart person, he found a niche then he worked it to his financial independence. Trouble is (in my opinion) the agenda he often spouts should be considered as hate speech. In a Democracy there must be compromise for without that, you have a Dictatorship. Mr. Limbaugh has for decades preached from his Bully Pulpit against ever compromise. Back when Senator John McCain was the Republican Candidate for President Mr. Limbaugh railed against him because he was a moderate, meaning that Mr. McCain would compromise with the Democrats in order to pass legislation. Do you remember during the 2016 Republican Presidential Debates that Texas Senator Ted Cruz looked straight into the camera and strongly insisted that if he were to be elected President that he would not ‘negotiate with the Democrats.’ Folks in my opinion, this builds the foundation of Dictatorships. Folks, hate is hate and Mr. Limbaugh and Mr. Putin have been preaching hate for decades now. These two just like with many others are simply Brothers (of hate) born of different Mothers but their Daddy (the Father of Hate and Lies) is pure evil.

 

 

After 43 days in Odisha prison, Abhijit Iyer-Mitra walks free

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES)

(I AM NOT A LEGAL EXPERT ON  INDIA’S LEGAL AFFAIRS BUT DOES NOT THIS TYPE OF A CASE DAMAGE INDIA’S CLAIM OF BEING A DEMOCRACY?)(oldpoet56)

After 43 days in Odisha prison, Abhijit Iyer-Mitra walks free

Iyer-Mitra, who was behind bars since October 23 over his tweets on 12th century Jagannath temple and 13th century Sun temple since September this year, was granted bail by Orissa High Court on Wednesday after the Odisha Government decided not to accord sanction of his prosecution and withdraw all cases against him.

INDIA Updated: Dec 07, 2018 01:26 IST

Debabrata Mohanty
Debabrata Mohanty
Bhubaneswar
Delhi-based defence analyst Abhijit Iyer-Mitra on Thursday walked out of jail free after a court in Konark granted him bail on a personal bond of Rs 20,000 and an assurance that he won’t make any “distasteful remarks” in future. (ANI)

Forty three days after his arrest over allegedly insulting Odia sentiments and tradition in his tweets, Delhi-based defence analyst Abhijit Iyer-Mitra on Thursday walked out of jail free after a court in Konark granted him bail on a personal bond of Rs 20,000 and an assurance that he won’t make any “distasteful remarks” in future.

Iyer-Mitra, who was behind bars since October 23 over his tweets on 12th century Jagannath temple and 13th century Sun temple since September this year, was granted bail by Orissa High Court on Wednesday after the Odisha Government decided not to accord sanction of his prosecution and withdraw all cases against him. Iyer-Mitra was hospitalised on Sunday following acute pain in his stomach.

Soon after his release, Abhijit will head to Chennai to meet his mother VS Chandralekha, Tamil Nadu’s first Woman collector and a close associate of Subramanian Swamy.

The withdrawal of the cases came after he petitioned to the Odisha chief secretary seeking withdrawal of sanction to prosecute him under Section 196 of the CrPC in the 2 cases citing lack of intent or malice. “In addition to my apology to the Odisha assembly, I have unreservedly and unconditionally apologized for my words and actions that may have unintentionally hurt the sentiments of the people of Odisha, the Chief Minister and any others,” he wrote. Last month, the Assembly pardoned him after he begged apology.

In September this year, Iyer-Mitra landed in a doghouse after he flew in a chopper with former BJD MP Baijayant Jay Panda over waters of Chilika lake. He became a collateral victim of fight between the CM and his bete noire Baijayant Panda, when he went to the Sun temple at Konark in Puri district and posted a video blog on Twitter in which he said the temple was a humple(a slang for sex). An FIR was lodged at Konark police station, but Iyer-Mitra managed to secure bail from a metropolitan court in Delhi in September.

However, his ordeal began when he passed some offensive remarks against MLAs of the State leading to breach of privilege motion. He landed in further trouble when a second FIR was lodged against him by a one Manoranjan Swain of Bhubaneswar over an year-old tweet of him ridiculing Odisha and Jagannath temple. In a tweet dated November 16, 2017, he wrote “Odisha was discovered by Bengali explorers, who called it “OriShala!!! And it was named Orissa”.

Iyer-Mitra was arrested and sent to judicial custody after being booked under sections 294, 295-A, 506, 500, 153-A of IPC and 67 IT Act on Sept 20 for allegedly making offensive remarks that could cause communal disturbances. Soon after he landed in jail, he stopped eating.

Though his arrest was condemned by several intellectuals as well as Amnesty India, the government did not move till his health deteriorated on Sunday leading to his hospitalisation.

First Published: Dec 06, 2018 22:40 IST

Federal Judge Orders White House To Restore CNN’s Jim Acosta’s ‘Hard Pass’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN AND ABC NEWS)

 

A federal judge on Friday ordered the Trump White House to immediately restore the press pass of CNN Chief White House Correspondent Jim Acosta as the case progresses after the network filed a lawsuit suit claiming that revoking it violated the First Amendment.

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The judge repeatedly emphasized that his decision was based on the Fifth Amendment and that Acosta was denied his right to due process.

“If at some point after restoring the hard pass the government would like to move to vacate the restraining order on the grounds that it has fulfilled its due process obligations then it may, of course, do so and I will promptly address that and then the remaining basis of the (temporary restraining order),” U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly said.

Speaking after the ruling, Ted Boutros, an attorney for CNN said the news organization is “extremely pleased with the ruling today.”

“A great day for the First Amendment and journalism,” he said. “We’re very excited to have Mr. Acosta be able to go back and get his hard pass and report the news about the White House.”

Acosta thanked journalistic colleagues for their support and the judge for his ruling.

“Let’s go back to work,” Acosta said.

PHOTO: CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta smiles as he departs after a judge temporarily restored his White House press credentials following a hearing at U.S. District Court in Washington, Nov. 16, 2018.Carlos Barria/Reuters
CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta smiles as he departs after a judge temporarily restored his White House press credentials following a hearing at U.S. District Court in Washington, Nov. 16, 2018.more +

CNN and Acosta filed suit against President Donald Trump and top aides on Tuesday for stripping Acosta, without warning, of his access to the White House, where he works daily. The indefinite revocation of Acosta’s press credentials, known as a “hard pass,” came on the heels of a heated exchange between Trump and Acosta on Nov. 7.

PHOTO: CNNs White House correspondent Jim Acosta arrives for a hearing at the U.S. District Court on Nov. 16, 2018 in Washington.Mark Wilson/Getty Images
CNN’s White House correspondent Jim Acosta arrives for a hearing at the U.S. District Court on Nov. 16, 2018 in Washington.more +

Earlier in the week, CNN and Acosta filed an emergency motion to have Acosta’s press pass immediately reinstated as the court case continues and asked for a ruling from Kelly, a Trump-appointed U.S. district judge.

The American Civil Liberties Union in a statement applauded Friday’s ruling saying it “reaffirms that no one, not even the president, is above the law.

“The White House surely hoped that expelling a reporter would deter forceful questioning, but the court’s ruling will have the opposite effect,” Ben Wizner, the ACLU’s director of speech, privacy and technology project wrote in a statement. “The freedom of the press is a bedrock principle, and our democracy is strengthened when journalists challenge our leaders rather than defer to them.”

This is a developing story. Please refresh for details.

Republican Politicians And Their Sham Against Democracy

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HUFFINGTON POST)

 

Republicans Are Casting Doubt On Normal Election Processes For The Sake Of Winning

By characterizing basic safeguards as illegitimate, Rick Scott and President Trump are undermining democracy.
X

On Thursday night, two days after Election Day, Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) stood on the steps of the governor’s mansion in Tallahassee and unleashed a nuclear bomb aimed at the very foundation of democracy. Scott suggested there was “rampant fraud” in the state. “No ragtag group of liberal activists or lawyers from D.C.” was going to steal the election from Floridians, the governor said.

When Scott made his comments, Florida hadn’t even hit the deadline to submit unofficial election results to the state. Scott asked the state’s law enforcement agency to investigate his allegations, but the agency quickly said there was nothing to investigate.

That hasn’t stopped President Donald Trump from continuing to insist that there was fraud in the state. There is no evidence of fraud to support his claim.

Scott’s election night lead over Nelson has shrunk significantly, and the margin is now so slim that the state is in the midst of a legally required recount. But election experts say there’s nothing unusual or nefarious about vote tallies changing days after an election. Instead of letting election officials count the ballots as usual, the comments from Scott and Trump amount to an effort to undermine normal election processes.

Steven Huefner, a law professor at Ohio State University, wrote that it was “beyond unseemly” and “downright destructive of public trust in our elections” for election officials to attribute changing vote totals to nefarious actions.

Florida allows voters to cast ballots by mail and accepts them until 7 p.m. on Election Day. Election officials then have to verify signatures on the ballots in addition to determining whether provisional ballots cast on Election Day can count. That process can take time, which is why Florida and other states give counties time to conduct what’s called a canvass and review the votes. In Florida, the deadline for counties to submit unofficial results to the state was Saturday and the deadline for official results is Nov. 18.

“Results on election night, it’s actually never been final on election night. Ever in the history of our country. There’s always been this continuation of calculating the results and all that,” said Amber McReynolds, the former top elections official in Denver who is now the executive director of the National Vote at Home Institute, a group that advocates for voting by mail. “This is not new. Florida’s doing exactly what other states are doing right now. California has even more to count. But in California, there’s not a Republican that might win, so it’s not getting any attention.”

Charles Stewart, the director of the MIT Election Lab, noted that, in addition to trying to deal with mailed-in ballots, counties also had to tally their early votes. Florida law doesn’t allow officials to count early votes until after the polls have closed. Different counties may also tally at different speeds because of the equipment available, the kinds of ballots they receive and staffing, experts say.

Scott has complained that Brenda Snipes, the supervisor of elections in Broward County, refused to turn over information about how many ballots still needed to be tallied. He secured a court order on Friday requiring her to hand over the information.

Ned Foley, a law professor at Ohio State University, has studied the way that vote totals change during a canvass after Election Day. Those shifts tend to benefit Democrats and are a “relatively new phenomenon,” he said, because more people are voting by mail and Congress passed a law in 2002 requiring officials to offer provisional ballots.

“Both of those things have the effect of having ballots eligible to be counted but not available for counting on election night,” he said. “For demographic reasons, groups that tend to vote Democratic Party ― students, younger voters, more mobile voters ― you’re more likely to get caught up in the need for a provisional ballot if you’re just a more transient population.”

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Usually, shifts in vote counts after Election Day go unnoticed because they aren’t enough to overcome the initially reported margin of victory. But in Florida, the changing tally is getting scrutinized because the margin separating the candidates is so thin, Foley said. A similar process is playing out in Arizona, where election officials are still counting the ballots in close races for U.S. Senate and secretary of state.

California has even more to count. But in California, there’s not a Republican that might win, so it’s not getting any attention.Amber McReynolds, executive director of the National Vote at Home Institute

Trump tweeted Monday that Florida shouldn’t consider any of the votes tallied after election night, a move that would disenfranchise military voters whose ballots can be accepted until Nov. 16.  Scott’s campaign is also suing in state court to block officials in Broward County, a key bastion of Democratic votes, from officially counting any ballots that weren’t tallied by the state’s Saturday deadline for unofficial results.

Foley said the allegations of fraud and election stealing in Florida were particularly worrisome because there could be shifts of tens of thousands of votes during a presidential election. The allegations in Florida could serve as a prelude for a candidate to undermine the results in 2020. A key part of democracies, he said, is that the candidates accept the results of elections as legitimate.

“Every election has a winner and a loser, and the loser has to accept defeat,” he said. The loser “has to think that, even though they really wanted to win and thought they should have won ― or maybe even thought the vote-counting process was inaccurate in some respects ― that we can accept it.”

The talk of fraud got the attention of the chief state judge in Broward County, who urged lawyers for both campaigns who were in court Monday to “ramp down the rhetoric” about voter fraud.

Richard Hasen, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine, who specializes in elections, wrote in Slate that that kind of questioning of election results could lay the foundation for a constitutional crisis.

“If President Trump is ahead in his re-election bid on the night of the election, only to lose that lead as more ballots in larger — mostly Democratic — counties are counted through a normal process in the days and weeks after Election Day, it seems reasonable to be concerned that he will contest such a legitimate vote,” Hasen wrote. “We don’t know if he would even vacate his office in such a scenario, triggering the possibility of a real constitutional crisis.”

Stories of Sri Lankans who are “Taking a Stand” for democracy

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

Stories of Sri Lankans who are “Taking a Stand” for democracy

Image via Groundviews

This post originally appeared on Groundviews, an award-winning citizen journalism website in Sri Lanka. An edited version is published below as part of a content-sharing agreement with Global Voices.

Sri Lanka has been embroiled in a political crisis since October 26 when president Maithripala Sirisena removed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe – replacing him with former president Mahinda Rajapaksa. This has led to a power struggle between the newly appointed PM and the recently ousted PM who both believe in the legitimacy of their position. Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets of the capital Colombo to question the constitutional legitimacy of the president’s decision and demand the parliament be reconvened to settle the matter. Bowing to pressure, President Sirisena has promised to reconvene the parliament on November 7.

On November 4, 2018, a group of people gathered at the Liberty roundabout in the Kollupitiya neighborhood of the Sri Lankan capital Colombo.

For some, it was their fifth day of standing in protest. Following news that President Maithripala Sirisena and the United People’s Freedom Alliance had stepped down from the coalition Government, a group of citizens decided to meet at the roundabout every day, from 4:30 to 6:30 pm, until Parliament was convened. On the first day, the protest coincided with a larger rally organised by Ranil Wickremesinghe-led United National Party (UNP) held nearby – but many of those who attended the rally on that day were quick to say that they were not attending to support the UNP.

On October 30, a tweet by Lisa Fuller featuring one of the posters held by a protester went viral. It read, “I’m not here for Ranil – I’m here for democracy”.

Lisa Fuller@gigipurple

“I’m not here for Ranil. I’m here for democracy and good governance” Civil society protest at liberty circle now

The poster appeared to encapsulate the sentiments of many of those gathered at the Liberty roundabout on October 30 and every day after.

Over the past few days, Groundviews documented those who attended the citizen protest. Those attending included young people who had never attended a protest before, senior citizens, activists and members of civil society. On November 4, there were participants from Jaffna, Mannar, Batticaloa and Kandy as well as from Colombo. For some, it was their first time at a protest. Others had seen corruption continue on for decades (the oldest participant was 92 years old). Members from the corporate sector stood shoulder-to-shoulder with activists from Jaffna and Batticaloa, who were flanked by those in the theatre community.

Corruption was a recurring topic, given revelations from UNP MP Ruwan Wijewardene about sums of money being offered for Parliamentarians to switch allegiances.

On October 30 and afterward, we asked those who attended one simple question – “What made you decide to participate?”

Over the past few days, Groundviews documented those who attended the citizen protest.

This is what they had to say:

Diordre Moraes. Image via Groundviews

“As a mother, as a grandmother, I want to see democracy restored. I’m not against any person or any party but as a citizen of Sri Lanka. Nothing like this has ever happened before” – Diordre Moraes

Neluni Tillekeratne. Image via Gorundviews

“I feel young people should take political issues more seriously. When youth engage with politics they only look at statements from the President or Prime Minister. We don’t look at deeper issues. I’m hoping to influence young people to come.” Neluni Tillekeratne

Nadesan Suresh. Image via Groundviews

Our Malaiyaha Tamil community, those who work in tea estates, voted for President Sirisena hoping he would reform society. However, what he did sets us back 100 years.’ Nadesan Suresh, from Badulla.

Sarojini Kadirgamar. Image via Groundviews

“Though I’m 92 years old, I feel I must make a stand for democracy. Over the years I’ve seen the steady deterioration of political life. Every party has used corrupt practices for short term gains.This has to change.” Sarojini Kadirgamar

Leisha Lawrence, Mihiri de Silva, Sepali de Silva and unknown. Image via Groundviews

“I’m here for democracy. If an MP choose to jump to another party they should lose their seat in Parliament. I’m not here for any party.” Leisha Lawrence (far right)

“We vote in a particular way for who we want. That doesn’t give the President the right to do what he wants, because he doesn’t get on with a particular person.” Mihiri de Silva (second from right)

“My vote is not for sale. This is not right!” Sepali de Silva (second from left)

Kalaivani. Image via Groundviews

‘We call this a democratic country but what happened suppressed democratic means. We made history as having the first female prime minister, now we have made history again for having two prime ministers!’ Kalaivani, from Batticaloa.

Adrian Roshan Fernando. Image via Groundviews

“The decisions being made now don’t include the public opinion. They are just taking their own decisions. There is a way to do things.” Adrian Roshan Fernando.

Piyathilaka Ranaweera. Image via Groundviews

“This is not good for the country. We’re doing this for the next generation, for the future of this country.” Piyathilaka Ranaweera

Irfadha Muzammil. Image via Groundviews

“People’s votes matter. We can’t let politicians corrupt that and exploit voters.” Irfadha Muzammil

Abdul Kalam Azad. Image via Groundviews

Rather than saying “I am Prime Minister” come to Parliament now and show that you have the majority. Govern the country. Don’t waste our time!” Abdul Kalam Azad.

As evening fell, the electricity at the Liberty roundabout remained switched off. Later on, Mayor of Colombo Rosy Senanayake tweeted that this was “an act of sabotage”.

Rosy Senanayake@Rosy_Senanayake

This has been brought to my notice and it was an act of sabotage. We will ensure the lights are switched on tomorrow.

Groundviews

@groundviews

Citizens use smartphones – for light, and to inquire with the CMC why the streetlamps were turned on late – as their protest against #ConstitutionalCrisisSriLanka ends for the day. It will continue daily, 4.30pm-6.30pm at Liberty roundabout till Parliament is convened. #lka

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View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter

Undeterred, the protesters used the light of their mobile phones and continued chanting.

Image via Groundviews

Eventually, at 7 pm, the protest came to an end – to be resumed the next day, and the day after that, until Parliament reconvenes.

Image via Groundviews

You can read the full Photo essay here. You can also follow along with the protest on Twitter, and from multiple perspectives, here.

“The people’s voices” prevail: Sri Lanka’s prime ministerial crisis to be put to a parliamentary vote

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘GLOBAL VOICES’)

 

“The people’s voices” prevail: Sri Lanka’s prime ministerial crisis to be put to a parliamentary vote

The Parliament of Sri Lanka. Image from Flickr by Kolitha de Silva. CC BY 2.0

Since October 26, when Sri Lankan president Maithripala Sirisena ousted Ranil Wickremesinghe, the country’s prime minister, and replaced him with former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, the ensuing political crisis has many in the country analyzing the constitutional legitimacy of appointing a prime minister without wider consent. The president also suspended the country’s parliament for three weeks and dissolved the cabinet of ministers.

On October 30 and 31, in response to the questionable legitimacy of Wickremesinghe’s removal and the temporary suspension of Parliament, thousands took to the streets of Colombo to demand that Parliament be reconvened in order to resolve the ongoing political crisis.

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Azzam Ameen

@AzzamAmeen

Massive Demonstration in Colombo demanding President Sirisena to convene Parliament “The people have spoken. Summon Parliament. Restore democracy now” says @

Harsha de Silva

@HarshadeSilvaMP

Thank you! Tens of thousands of people thronged the entrance to Temple Trees. They were orderly, not drunk and didnt climb lamp posts. They came only to demand that parliament be summoned and dislodge . Huge success. @MaithripalaS don’t trample democracy. @RW_UNP

Vikalpa

@vikalpavoices

Live updates from the people’s protest at the Liberty Plaza roundabout calling for the re-convening of Parliament

In a news conference, Speaker of Parliament Karu Jayasuriya urged the president to let Wickremesinghe prove his majority support on the parliament floor, and warned of a bloodbath if the impasse continues.

Nusky Mukthar@NuskyMukthar

Diplomats from UN, EU, UK, Canada & Germany met the Speaker today and urged to convene the parliament and to ensure democracy is protected

Pressure from protests to reconvene Parliament have borne fruit, as Sirisena has scheduled a parliamentary vote to decide who is the lawful prime minister on November 7.

A dysfunctional coalition

The events of the past few days have stoked fears among some Sri Lankans of a return to the period of Mahinda Rajapaska’s presidency, when sectarian violence, state-sponsored repression and censorship were rife. As a group of students has noted in a statement on the matter published by GroundViews:

The resort to violence and coercion is a chilling reminder of what dictatorship looks like. The coup is being followed by a return to the norms of self-censorship, violence, and fear that were characteristic of Rajapaksa-era politics. State media institutions were stormed in the night and security for the Prime Minister and Ministers  arbitrarily withdrawn. Moreover, many private media stations are already becoming vehicles for misinforming the public and spreading disinformation.

Sirisena told reporters that he removed Wickremesinghe after discovering that the latter was involved in an assassination plot against him. But it is believed that the current situation is, in fact, a by-product of the existing power struggle between Sirisena, Wickremesinghe, and Rajapaksa.

In January 2015, then-President Mahinda Rajapaksa called for a presidential election in a bid to consolidate his power and to seek a third term in office. Sirisena, a former minister in Rajapaksa’s government, defected from Rajapaksa’s Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and was nominated as a candidate by the Wickremesinghe-led United National Party (UNP) to contest the presidency against the incumbent. Sirisena emerged the surprising winner—securing 51.28% votes against Rajapaksa’s 47.28%—and took over as the new president of Sri Lanka.

After the election, Rajapaksa handed over leadership of the SLFP party to Sirisena in accordance with the party’s constitution, which states that any member who is President is automatically leader of the party. During the parliamentary elections in August 2015, Siresena’s and Rajapaksa’s factions joined forces to contest the election under the banner of the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA). Wickremesinghe’s UNP-led coalition, however, won 106 seats out of 225, with the UFPA winning 95—55 by the pro-Rajapaksa faction, and 40 by the pro-Sirisena faction.

After the parliamentary elections, Sirisena appointed Wickremesinghe prime minister and created a National Government after signing a memorandum of understanding in order to address issues which were not resolved after the end of the 30-year ethnic conflict. Since then, the Rajapaksa-led SLFP faction has been the de-facto opposition party.

Over the past two years, however, Rajapaksa has been gaining significant ground, and his party swept the local elections in February 2018. In April 2018, Wickremesinghe survived a no-confidence motion in Parliament brought by supporters of Rajapaksa, a move clearly meant to weaken the already unstable ruling coalition.

The growing popularity of Rajapaksa’s SLFP party and existing tensions between Sirisena and Wickremesinghe over the latter’s leaning towards India as a geopolitical partner instead of China, may be one of the many reasons that Sirisena has chosen to appoint Rajapaksa as prime minister.

“The people’s voices have been heard. . . ” Wickremesinghe stated optimistically on Twitter on November 1, after it was learnt that parliament would be reconvened next week. “Democracy will prevail.”

Peter A Bell

Thinker. Listener. Talker. Reader. Writer.

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