Roar Weekly News Roundup: Week 1, March 2016

This week in news witnessed drastic action being taken by the parents of school children after a false AIDS accusation, while in another part of the island, wildlife officials were left baffled after they discovered what appears to be a new species of civet. In international news, a tsunami scare followed a 7.8 magnitude earthquake near Indonesia.


School Empties Out After False HIV/AIDS scare

A six year old boy and his mother have been faced with much stigma thanks to rumours that the boy’s father had died of AIDS, and that the boy too had AIDS. Image Credit: BBC

A school in Kurunegala was emptied of all but one student this week, following rumours that this student had AIDS.

According to BBC reports, parents had removed their children from the school in protest, because the six year old boy’s father’s death had been wrongly attributed to AIDS.

The child had been previously rejected by other schools too, due to these false rumours. School authorities said that the child was denied admission due to pressure from other parents.

Later in the week, the boy was promised a place at another school. The boy’s mother had said they had been the victim of stigma, while school officials told the BBC’s Sinhala service that they would try to hold a session to educate parents.

Sri Lanka is considered to have a very low prevalence of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. According to UN figures, in 2014 there were 3,200 adults and 100 children living with HIV, less than 0.1% of the population.

However, there is also concern about poor awareness of the virus and how it spreads, which leads to stigma and discrimination.

Notorious Underworld Figure Shot and Wounded

Unidentified gunmen shot and critically wounded Chaminda Ravi Jayanath, the third suspect in the Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra murder case, when he was being taken back to Prison from Court on Wednesday (02).

The notorious underworld figure, also known as Dematagoda Chaminda, was rushed to the Colombo General Hospital where emergency surgery was performed to stabilise his condition.

The unidentified gunmen arriving in a car had opened fire at the prison vehicle transporting Dematagoda Chaminda and three other suspects, when it had temporarily stopped at the traffic lights. The other suspects and the prison officials inside the prison vehicle did not sustain any injuries in the incident.

Enrique Iglesias Concert Controversy: Petition for Rs. 22 Million

Enrique’s ‘Sex and Love’ concert last year created quite a stir – and it turns out things haven’t entirely settled down. Image Credit: Samir Hussein/2014 Getty Images

The Colombo District Court on Wednesday (02) issued notice on Live Events Ltd., the organisers of the Enrique Iglesias Concert held at the CR & FC Grounds in Colombo, to respond to a petition filed by two fans who attended the concert.

The petitioners – Attorney Nishan Premathiratne and his wife – had earlier sent a letter of demand to Live Events for Rs. 22 million for “loss, damage, and mental stress,” caused during the concert.

Subsequently, the Court issued notice on the respondents, directors of Live Events – former Sri Lanka Cricket Captains Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara – to appear in Court and to consider whether to issue an interim-injunction order on the firm as requested by the petitioners.

Wasim Thajudeen Case: Deadend With CCTV Footage

Wasim Thajudeen, whose 2012 death was recently pronounced a murder. Image Credit

The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) informed the Colombo Chief Magistrate’s Courts on Wednesday that CCTV camera footage of the assailants of Sri Lanka rugby star Wasim Thajudeen will be sent to Canada shortly

The CID added that they are yet to receive a response from three foreign forensic labs recommended to analyse the videos.

The Data Collection Unit of Colombo University’s Information Technology Faculty had recommended organisations such as the the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Forensic Services MPS (Metropolitan Police Service, UK) and New Scotland Yard to analyse the video footage, which supposedly shows the perpetrators of the murder that occurred in 2012.

New Species of Civet Cat

An unidentifiable animal with similar features to a civet cat (uguduwa) was discovered in the Sinharaja Forest Reserve last Sunday (28), by officials of the Wildlife Conservation Department.

The animal had similar features to a civet cat, but it had yellow, brown and black fur and had no tail, unlike a civet cat. The officials at Wildlife Conservation Department have not yet been able to discern its origins.

The creature weighs 3.3kg, is 60 centimetres in length, and of 39.1 centimetres in height. The officials suspect the creature to have lost its tail at birth due to some injury.

The authorities have sent bodily samples for appropriate DNA testing in order to identify it.

Yoshitha Suspended From Navy

The Sri Lanka Navy suspended Lieutenant Yoshitha Rajapaksa from exercise of naval services with effect from last Sunday (28).

The suspension for active duty was carried out by the Ministry of Defence, under the request made by the Financial Crimes Investigation Division (FCID), in order to keep ongoing FCID investigations independent.

Prof. Vishwa Warnapala passes away

Former General Secretary of the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA), Prof. Vishwa Warnapala, passed away at the age of 79, last Saturday (27).

The former Cabinet Minister of Higher Education and former Parliamentarian passed away at a private hospital in Colombo.

He was appointed as the UPFA General Secretary by President Maithripala Sirisena on 26 August 2015 after Susil Premajayantha resigned from the position.


India: JNU Student Leader Granted Bail

Kanhaiya Kumar, leader of the Student Union of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU),  who was charged with sedition, was granted bail on Thursday (03).

Kanhaiya Kumar was arrested last month after a rally against the execution of a Kashmiri separatist convicted over the 2001 India parliament attack.

Authorities claim that the protesters shouted anti-India slogans. Two other students remain in custody. The arrests have sparked massive protests across India, with many accusing the Government of cracking down on dissent and free speech.

The Government defended the arrests, saying the students supported the Kashmiri separatist movement and the breakup of India.

Indonesia: 7.8 Magnitude Earthquake

Residents of Padang, Indonesia, rushed to higher ground after a tsunami warning was issued. Image Credit: BBC

A 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of western Indonesia, on Wednesday evening.

The earthquake struck at 19:49 local time (12:49 GMT). Reports said the epicentre was 805 km (500 miles) south-west of the city of Padang, and 24 km deep.

Australian tsunami warnings for Cocos Island, Christmas Island and Western Australia were also lifted. No tsunami warnings were issued in India or Sri Lanka.

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