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This is an extract from the Reading Materials in English that are available in the English and Education section of the website of the Liberal Party of  Sri Lanka, www.liberalparty-srilanka.org

The entire text of Historic Buildings by Goolbai Gunasekara, covering twelve famous constructions, is now available on that website.

Huayna Picchu towers above the ruins of Machu Picchu

The city of Machu Picchu is another one of history’s mysteries. It lies high up in the Andes mountains of Peru in South America. No one in the modern world had ever heard of this lost city till the 20th century.

Gold statue of Inca Sun God - Inti

When the Spaniards conquered South America in the early 16th century, the soldiers of Spain were called Conquistadors. They were cruel and destructive. They burnt down all the beautiful cities of the Incas in Peru and the Aztec in Mexico. They killed the Inca and Aztec kings. They took all the gold of South America back to Spain. Nothing of those civilizations exists today except the great buildings and temples which could not be destroyed by the Spanish.

Fortunately for everyone, the Spaniards did not find the city of Machu Picchu. This may have been because of the difficulty in getting there. Machu Picchu is not easy to reach. The roads are not very good and it was too far away for the Conquistadors to worry about. So nobody bothered about this little city hidden away in its mountain retreat.

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Charles Haviland - BBC News

An exchange of views with the BBC in relation to a report of the Elders Group on Sri Lanka.

Question from the BBC

“The elders say that some recent positive change within Sri Lanka is tainted by “intolerance of debate or dissent and a culture of impunity that protects those close to the govt”.

Response in 40 words please.

Actual response, but edited and used by the BBC without the question, which may cause confusion

“As with many retired elders, these simplify and preach, instead of making recommendations to build on the positive changes they finally recognize. There is certainly no lack of dissent and criticism of government as seen daily in papers and Parliament”.

The BBC version

An MP from the governing coalition, Rajiva Wijesinha, said that retired elders were “simplifying and preaching” instead of making recommendations to build on the positive change. He said there was no lack of dissent and criticism – and this was seen daily in newspapers and the parliament.

Source: BBC News South Asia  3 August 2010  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-10851163

Response to a report of the Elders Group on Sri Lanka (English) – http://www.youtube.com/user/RajivaWijesinha#p/a/u/0/03G_4UVsxPs


Response to a report of the Elders Group on Sri Lanka (Sinhala) – http://www.youtube.com/user/RajivaWijesinha#p/a/u/1/B-qKO3tXlrY

BANGKOK, 21 July 2010

The government has defended its development and resettlement programme, with Rajiva Wijesinha, a member of parliament, saying:

“Education and health facilities are back to what they were before the war; in fact, better in some areas.”

The government has also established language and employment policies designed to assist in integration and overcome the alienation that led to much of the civil unrest, Wijesinha told IRIN.

Moreover, it has established a Commission on Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation (CLLR), with a mandate to examine what led to the breakdown of a ceasefire in 2002 and all activities that followed until the end of hostilities in 2009. ….

According to Wijesinha, the international community should now focus on the future rather than the past.

“I think the biggest challenge is the idea that reconciliation is all about the past, about war crimes and possible punishment for these,” he said.

“Sadly, some claim that reconciliation is impossible without reckonings, which I think takes attention away from all the positive actions that are happening.”

Source: IRIN Asia  21 July 2010  http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=89904

Rajiva Wijesinha, the former secretary of the Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights, and currently a member of the Sri Lankan parliament, told Al Jazeera that the panel’s launch is an “extremely regrettable action“.

‘Picking on the small’

“It stems from pressure on the secretary-general [Ban Ki-moon] from so-called human rights groups and some so-called independent officials like Philip Alston [the UN special rapporteur on extra-judicial executions], who thinks it is easier to pick on a small country like Sri Lanka,” he said.

“We have said very clearly that if we are given solid evidence of incidents, we will explore them, and the US state department pointed out particular issues which we will look into, but we have no time to focus on all these sorts of allegations by people with no sense of responsibility.”

Source: Al Jazeera News – Central/S.Asia  23 June 2010  http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2010/06/20106233524402729.html

Written following the Parliamentary debate on reforms suggested to make justice more accessible, this essay reflects on amendments to increase the number of High Court Judges

Hulftsdorp Court complex, Sri Lanka

Having been made aware recently of delays in the judicial process, I was pleased that one of the first pieces of legislation of the current Parliament dealt with increasing the number of High Court judges. The amendment seemed small in scope, but it dealt with a crucial area where it is important that we move to greater professionalism and accountability.

One reason for continuing criticism of our judicial system is, very simply, that our judges are overworked. This leads to inordinate delays in meting out justice. Apart from the simple principle, that justice delayed is justice denied, it is also unfortunately true that such delays strike hardest at the relatively deprived in our society. The amendment then was a welcome first step towards making our judicial system more responsive to the needs of the people. Read the rest of this entry »

Rajiva Wijesinha

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