Reinstated Sri Lanka PM promises ‘new era’

Ranil Wickremesinghe was reinstated on Sunday, two months after his sacking. (AFP)
Updated 17 December 2018
0

Reinstated Sri Lanka PM promises ‘new era’

  • Lawmakers clashed after shock decision from president
  • Peace not yet restored, says NGO

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s new prime minister, who was reinstated on Sunday after being sacked almost two months ago, pledged to learn from past failures and to improve people’s living conditions.
Ranil Wickremesinghe was dismissed by the president on Oct. 26, 2018, and replaced by his predecessor in a controversial power grab that triggered international condemnation and even fisticuffs in parliament.
Wickremesinghe made his first public appearance since being reinstalled at a rally in Colombo’s Galle Face Green, addressing thousands of people.
He told them: “We will take renewed efforts without any religious, racial prejudices. We will ameliorate the living conditions of the people.” 
He also said he planned to register a new political party on Friday, under the name of the National Democratic Front.
President Maithripala Sirisena said he respected parliamentary democracy and denied that his actions - including an attempt to dissolve parliament - were unconstitutional.
“I made a statement that I will not give Ranil Wickremesinghe the post of prime minister, even if a request is made by all the 225 Parliamentarians and it is my own personal political opinion, and my view is still the same, but I have decided to invite 
Ranil Wickremesinghe as I am a leader who respects parliamentary tradition and democracy.
“My recent moves including the dissolution of parliament, prorogue parliament, remove the prime minister and the appointment of a new prime minister, not according to his sole discretion, but after receiving the advice of legal experts, and those steps were taken for the betterment of the country and there was no intention to violate the constitution of the country.” 
Alan Keenan, Sri Lanka project director from the International Crisis Group, tweeted that the crisis would continue. 
"Peace is clearly not yet restored,” he said. “The next few months will almost certainly see the fights continue in new forms.”
But others were more optimistic. 
US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Alaina Teplitz welcomed the weekend’s political developments, as did the Australian High Commission in Colombo and the European Union. 
“As steady friends of Sri Lanka, we welcome the peaceful and democratic resolution of the political crisis in accordance with the constitution,” the EU said Monday. “We commend the resilience of Sri Lanka's democratic institutions and will continue to support its efforts towards national reconciliation and prosperity for all.”
Wickremesinghe is expected to name his cabinet ministers on Tuesday.


Japan apologizes to those forcibly sterilized, vows redress

Updated 24 April 2019
0

Japan apologizes to those forcibly sterilized, vows redress

  • An estimated 25,000 people were given unconsented sterilization while the 1948 Eugenics Protection Law was in place until 1996
  • The government had until recently maintained the sterilizations were legal at the time

TOKYO: Japan’s government apologized Wednesday to tens of thousands of victims forcibly sterilized under a now-defunct Eugenics Protection Law and promised to pay compensation.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said he was offering “sincere remorse and heartfelt apology” to the victims.
His apology comes just after the parliament enactment earlier Wednesday of legislation to provide redress measures, including $28,600 (¥3.2 million) compensation for each victim.
An estimated 25,000 people were given unconsented sterilization while the 1948 Eugenics Protection Law was in place until 1996. The law was designed to “prevent the birth of poor-quality descendants” and allowed doctors to sterilize people with disabilities. It was quietly renamed as the Maternity Protection Law in 1996, when the discriminatory condition was removed.
The redress legislation acknowledges that many people were forced to have operations to remove their reproductive organs or radiation treatment to get sterilized, causing them tremendous pain mentally and physically.
The government had until recently maintained the sterilizations were legal at the time.
The apology and the redress law follow a series of lawsuits by victims who came forward recently after breaking decades of silence. That prompted lawmakers from both ruling and opposition parties to draft a compensation package to make amends for the victims.
The plaintiffs are seeking about ¥30 million each ($268,000) in growing legal actions that are spreading around the country, saying the government’s implementation of the law violated the victims’ right to self-determination, reproductive health and equality. They say the government redress measures are too small for their suffering.
In addition to the forced sterilizations, more than 8,000 others were sterilized with consent, though likely under pressure, while nearly 60,000 women had abortions because of hereditary illnesses, according to Japan Federation of Bar Associations.
Among them were about 10,000 leprosy patients who had been confined in isolated institutions until 1996, when the leprosy prevention law was also abolished. The government has already offered compensation and an apology to them for its forced isolation policy.