Air strikes on an Al-Qaeda compound in Iraq by the U.S. led coalition
forces had killed at least seven children on June 18, 2007 according to
The coalition forces made a statement saying the children were inside
the compound and they had no clue about the children living inside the
compound before they carried out the strike. Apparently, the al-Qaeda
may have used children as human shields.
Now if the same thing happened due to a mistake by Sri Lankan Forces,
there would be a lot of hue and cry calling for UN interference by feral
forces to condemn our Government. The human rights groups have double
standards for human rights.
I could not find any human rights watch dog barking against this
violation on international media yet.
Now that the West has violated human rights, even by mistake, they
should impose their own rules - travel restrictions on themselves!
In recent news, there was a report that a Sri Lankan woman was
tortured, dragged, raped and was kicked by her employer family in
Bahrain in the Middle East.
She had sought a shelter in an association for abused women. But it
was not clear if an investigation was launched by the authorities in
Bahrain. What a shame! Our women's rights defenders are silent on this.
They shout only for political gain and they do not shout at oil or
In my opinion, the human rights watchdogs are functioning mainly to
protect the Western interests around the globe and in some sense these
groups are created and controlled by the Western Governments only to
protect their narrow interests.
How come the democratic nations like Sri Lanka are insisted to bow
down to terrorism by way of cutting aid under the pretext of inflated
human rights records demanding that we negotiate with the terrorists
while only the West who are weapons-rich can claim to reserve the right
to fight terrorism? Poor nations also have the God given right to
protect its people from terrorists.
Every citizen in Sri-Lanka should feel responsible for saving our
country from the terrorists, and together we will be able to defeat
terrorism and at the same time establish a United Sri Lanka.
And what a shame on the Opposition Leader who seems to be against on
everything that Government is doing. It seems like he has a personal
grudge on President's brothers.
But he must love our land enough to forget the personal grudges and
work with the President to save the nation from the terrorists. No peace
loving person should support terrorism for any reason.
It's a pity Sri Lanka does not seem to have the courage nor the
conviction of Malaysia who reportedly has suspended the licenses of 20
maid agencies and blacklisted 85 employers after complaints. (Reference
DN June 23). The systematic abuse of Sri Lankan maids abroad warrants
similar action and nothing short of a blitz would ensure good employers
(of which there are many) are rewarded and the nasty ones vilified.
Shaik Anwar Ahamath
I wish to respond to Dr. Bandula Kothalawala's letter which appeared
in the Daily News of June 11, regarding my artlcle of May 22. First, I
must thank Dr. Kothalawala. It is always nice to receive feedback on
one's writings. Dr. Kothalawala makes some very good points which I
cannot dispute. However, a few things about his letter causes me some
How differently abled is a person who cannot walk to an aircraft?
What special abilty does he have over a person who can walk normally?
Even the United Nations does not use such a term. Of course,
understandably, people use certain terms which are 'politically correct'
such as calling a short person 'vertically challenged' but let us call a
spade a spade. It is only then can we help the disabled.
Admittedly, I do not really know how difficult it is for a
wheelchaired passenger to use a toilet in the aircraft, not being a
physically disabled person myself. However, I find it difficult to
accept Dr. Kothalawala's contention that my article might convey the
impression that persons with disabilities always get a fair deal from
the airlines and airport authorities.
At no point in my article do I say that, and in fact, I believe that
my article says the contrary, and that it conveys the impression that
although there are international regulations, not always is there
My article was meant to inform the reader as to what the
internationally accepted definitions are, and what international
regulatory bodies such as ICAO and IATA have recognized as standards and
It will be noted that I have included a paragraph on ICAO's and
IATA's findings through surveys that there is legislation in some States
that give consideration to the elderly and the disabled.
This is just a plain fact. Also, the fact that some aircraft
manufacturers have taken proactive measures to accommodate the elderly
and the disabled passenger is an incontrovertible fact which no
individual can deny.
It will also be noted that the main substance of my article comprises
a series of recommendations, which means that all is NOT right with the
world in this area.
Recommendations are made to rectify existing lapses and/or to improve
things and that was the main purport of my article.
As an international civil servant in the United Nations System for
the past 18 years (four of which were dedicated to facilitation of air
transport) I have actively worked and contributed towards obtaining
consensus of the 190 member States of ICAO to put in place Standards and
Recommended Practices in Annex 9 to the Chicago Convention which call
upon States to ensure that their airlines provide adequately for the
comfort of the elderly and disabled passenger.
As I say in the concluding sentence of my article: "International air
transport involves international commitment on the part of all concerned
who provide it, without exception". This is the theme of my article.
I fully empathise with Dr. Kothalawala and I am happy to see his
comments printed, so that the public will know of his experiences, and
form their own views on the subject. However, I believe it would be
wrong to convey the message that, as a blanket rule, disabled people do
not EVER get a fair deal from airlines. This is what Dr. Kothalawala
says in the last sentence of his first paragraph.
In my 26 years in the aviation industry (eight of which were in what
was then AirLanka) I too have travelled extensively, to all continents
involved in air transport. I have seen instances of kindness and
instances of callousness both on the part of airlines and on the part of
customs and airport authorities.
This does not impel me to consider anything a general rule. There
have been instances where, fifteen years ago I was travelling with my
two children (who were toddlers then) and my family were deprived of
consideration for my young children by some airlines.
That still does not make me tar all airlines with the same brush.
Also, I believe my article, which was a general expose on the issue,
should not be used to air a personal gripe.
Dr. RUWANTISSA ABEYRATNE
Colombo Airport is reopened for 24 hour operation once again. I wrote
about security lapses at the airport on a previous occasion when I
walked out after check in, came back to Colombo, re-entered Airport with
no valid ticket and boarded a plane.
The security at the entrance still read the ticket in bad light. Name
on ticket and name on passport was not certified. There should be
illumination at the entrance. Loading bags to the bag-scanner is
Although there are many security officers present, none instruct the
passengers to keep a gap between bags nor do the security adjust the
space between bags. The security officers monitoring scanners must be
super humans, better than any in the world to scan bags next to each
other or on top of each other.
Seasoned professional travellers like us are used to taking all metal
objects out of pockets including belt and jacket if wearing one and
place them in appropriate container/s and walk through scanner.
There are no utensils at the scanner to place metal objects, belt,
jacket etc. Just walk through scanner. Most of the time scanner beeps.
Then a lone male security officer or a lady security officer will do a
minimal body search and allow the passenger to proceed.
Body search is no longer in operation in airports. If the scanner
beeps, one is made to walk through scanner till it stops beeping or
checked with a hand held scanner and ordered to pull everything out till
no beep is heard.
What is more frightening is the check before boarding. People in this
country are always in a rush. The man behind will push the person in
front to place his/her hand carry on conveyor. When people walk through
body scanner 99 per cent of the time it beeps.
In most airports, shoes have to be removed and sent through a
scanner. Laptops, cameras have to undergo a test for explosive dust.
Body search is once again performed in a very soft manner by the
This type of search will not detect anything. People must be made to
walk through the scanner till it stops beeping or rechecked by a hand
held scanner as done in India with the passenger standing on a platform.
It is high time the security of the airport is trained in proper
Airport Security in prevention of hijacking and terrorism in airports.
Sri Lanka is famous for closing the stable door after the horse has
bolted. May be AASL is waiting to do so.