Monday, January 4, 2010

Body of Lankan flown back from Dubai

- Daily Mirror - 5th January 2010

Technician commits suicide

The body of H.E. Jayasena, the Sri Lankan who committed suicide on New Years Eve in Dubai , was flown back to the island, yesterday. An A/C technician at a five star hotel in Dubai , Jayasena was reported to have committed suicide while on duty.

He was found dead by his supervisor on the basement floor with burn marks on his hands.

"Forensic experts confirm the deliberate motivation of the technician to commit suicide from the marks and evidence found at the scene," Director of CID at Dubai Police Lieutenant Colonel Ahmad Humaid Al Merri told Gulf News. Police investigations revealed that the victim had been embroiled in a dispute with the hotel management over his end-of-service settlements and his air ticket back to Sri Lanka.One of his colleagues, who did not want to be named, said he was a very quiet person who had joined the company around 10 months ago.

He said that Jayasena had been complaining of a severe headache, for several months, but no one was able to identify the cause of the pain. According to him Jayasena had travelled to Sri Lanka in November for treatment which proved futile.

"I believe his sickness and the way the management dealt with his request to leave and go back home drove him to commit suicide," the colleague added.

No more votes for migrant workers and the sad story

- Island

by Shyamalee Mahibalan

Over 1.7 million registered migrant workers, whose remittance last year recorded 316,118 million rupees have lost their voting franchise this time too. According to 2005 figures, they are 12% of registered voters and 10% of the national workforce; they contribute to 17% national savings and more than 20% foreign exchange earnings and they constitute of over 47% women. One cannot also forget the hundreds of thousands of students and the diplomatic staff abroad, whose political participation is vital in a democratic society. No doubt, many would agree that this may have been a golden opportunity for Sri Lankan expatriates to participate in the development process of the country. Considering the large numbers of women voter base the most favorable action would be to allow them to vote and ascertaining their franchise, since it can be considered collective power and not individual power that counts.

It has been 10 years since the campaign for political rights of expatriate workers, who have been shunned and denied, was first initiated by the National workers Congress Migrants service centre. Since then, so many elections have come and gone the authorities seemed to have no political will. If the voting franchise of migrant workers cannot be incorporated in to the current electoral reforms, they could offer to purchase 1.7 million tickets and bring them over instead of destroying or rigging their votes.

Ironically both main candidates have promised to increase the women representation in parliament to 30% from its current position of 4%, seemingly interesting for a country that has produced two women leaders, quite mystifying in a country where women are leading the workforce. Sri lanka ’s women representation in parliament is said to be way behind all other South Asian countries. Since the granting of universal franchise in 1931 Sri Lanka encouraged men and women to enjoy voting rights for over 77 years. According to reports, political representation, political participation and women in decision-making remain at abysmal level. Women’s representation in Parliament stands at 4.05% and in Local Government 1.9 %. The percentage of women in Municipal Councils is 3.0% and the Urban Councils 3.4%. Afghanistan, a country with many tribes and tribal practices and warlords, where the United States is trying to force western style democracy through its criminal ally Karzai, where we are reminded daily in the mainstream media that the Burka is a form of repression and that the women are flogged on the streets, interstingly out of its 361 members in parliament 91 members are women. These independent candidates hold 57 seats in the lower house and 28% in the upper house, higher than even the United States . These are educated independent candidates, who were elected from provinces all across Afghanistan .Despite the western backed Warlords refusal to accept women’s rights and enforce discriminatory laws against women (the recent amendment to marital rape law) the rights of Afghan women are enshrined in the constitution. Malalai Joya (Activist, author-a woman among warlords) was a 26 year old parliamentarian when she raised her voice in Afghan parliament in 2003 against warlords and foreign occupation ,an interesting video of this moment can be viewed on you tube, she was however suspended two years later. Today she is the voice of Afghanistan across the world and she still fights for freedom and democracy in Afghanistan . Noam Chomsky called her "truly worthy choice for the Nobel Peace Prize" Out of the 91 members many reported to have received death threats from Karzai backed warlord, regardless they continue.

In contrast, Sri Lanka ’s 4% in the parliament seems like a few tokens to adorn the many seats in the parliament, in a male dominated political hierarchy, once elected they succumbed to cheap political campaigns of identity politics. Sad indeed that Sri Lankan women today are mere spectators behind microphones and cameras, despite the years of progress made. One wonders where are all the women activists and lawmakers, where is activism in politics? Sri Lanka ’s activists and activism is most certainly archaic and selfish, so are politics and politicians. Politics in Sri Lanka however, resembles an elitist private club with access to everything public. Anyone can be lured in to this club with the prospect of many perks including plundering and controlling the herd ".

We need to reignite the women power in politics and parliament, not the junk identity politics, but political activism. We need to reignite the fiery brand of Vivian Gunawardena politics.

Female Workers Return

By Cassandra Mascarenhas

Last week, a group of 44 female workers returned to Sri Lanka from Kuwait where they had been seeking shelter in a safe house managed by the Sri Lankan Embassy in Kuwait .

According to L. K. Ruhunage, the assistant general manager of the Foreign Employment Bureau of Sri Lanka, the return of these workers is an ongoing process that is funded by the Bureau.

There are many reasons behind why these women chose to leave their places of employment such as the non-payment of wages, being unable to work due to various illnesses, personal reasons such as sick relatives back home or in some cases, harassment at the hands of their employers.

Next week, another group of 68 male workers are scheduled to return to Sri Lanka from Riyadh , Saudi Arabia as they too have encountered similar problems at their places of employment.

When asked about the situation regarding the workers stranded under the Kandara Bridge in Saudi Arabia , Ruhunage said that most of them have returned back to Sri Lanka . “This is harder to monitor as the workers’ return is handled by the Saudi authorities and not us,” he added.

However, yet more workers have gathered under this bridge, adding to the number of workers waiting to return. The Saudi government has now offered these workers shelter, where the Foreign Employment Bureau of Sri Lanka would pay for the accommodation, and the Sri Lankan consulate based in Jeddah has advised the workers to accept this offer and move to the shelters instead of continuing to remain under the Kandara Bridge .