Prageeth's former office set alight

January 31, 2011 Comments Off on Prageeth's former office set alight

LankaENews – Lanka E News office set on fire

…the main office of the website comprising the computer Hall and the most precious and valuable Library have been completely destroyed. The building where the office was maintained is so badly damaged that it is not in a state for continuation of website operations…More

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One year on, Prageeth is remembered…

January 30, 2011 Comments Off on One year on, Prageeth is remembered…

BBC – S Lanka literary festival discusses journalist’s plight

During a lunchtime session at the Galle Literary Festival, one isolated-looking teenager sat among the audience.

He watched for a while before getting up and joining his mother standing at the back.

They were the 16-year-old son and the wife of Prageeth Eknaligoda, a journalist-come-cartoonist missing since 24 January 2010.

They visited the annual festival to lobby its participants on his plight – a plight which has inspired some to call for a festival boycott and provoked a debate in Sri Lanka.

Mr Eknaligoda, who had written articles critical of the government, was apparently abducted on his way home from the office and has not been seen since. More

BBC – Prageeth missing due to ‘chemical weapon probe’

The main reason for the disappearance of a journalist is an investigation he carried out on the alleged use of chemical weapons by Sri Lanka forces, says his wife.

…“In 2008, Prageeth wrote and informed the diplomats about the Sri Lankan government’s usage of chemical weapons against the people in the north,” she told the BBC…More

BBC – In pictures: Missing Sri Lankan artist is remembered
Click here to watch a slideshow of Prageeth’s drawings and cartoons

Father of murdered Tamil boy sues Rajapakse for $30mil

January 30, 2011 Comments Off on Father of murdered Tamil boy sues Rajapakse for $30mil

TamilNet – US legal effort to seek justice for son’s killing – Dr Manoharan

In an interview with the BBC Tamil service, Dr Kasippillai Manoharan, father of Ragihar, one of the five students extra-judicially executed by Sri Lanka’s military at the Trincomalee beach on January 2nd, 2006, said that Sri Lanka’s judicial system is not capable and unwilling to provide justice and bring closure to his son’s death, hence his initiating a civil suit in the U.S. He further told the BBC, five years have passed since his son’s brutal killing, and he will use all judicial instruments now available to him outside Sri Lanka to bring his son’s killers to justice. Dr Manoharan said he is convinced that Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa has information on the killers but the President is unwilling to allow prosecution of military officers. Both Mr and Mrs Manoharan are prominent physicians who earlier practiced in Trincomalee.

Click here to read a translation of the interview given in Tamil to the BBC Tamil Service Saturday 29 January 2011 (courtesy:TamilNet)
Click here to listen to BBC interview (in Tamil) (courtesy:TamilNet)
Click here to read TAG Report: Trincomalee executions (courtesy:TamilNet)
Click here to view TamilNet’s Post-Trinco-massacre photo album (courtesy:TamilNet)

Sigh…What a waste…

January 28, 2011 Comments Off on Sigh…What a waste…

Reuters – U.N. defends Ban Ki-moon against rights criticism

The United Nations defended Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday against charges he has failed to speak out on human rights, saying that Ban had achieved positive results around the world.

The criticism of Ban’s rights record comes at a difficult time for the former South Korean foreign minister, who is widely expected to run for a second five-year term as the U.N. chief. His current term expires at the end of 2011.

“The record shows that the Secretary-General has achieved results both through quiet diplomacy … as well as public pressure,” U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq said.

The head of New York-based Human Rights Watch, Kenneth Roth, said in the group’s latest annual report that Ban has been “notably reluctant to put pressure on abusive governments.”

“Ban’s disinclination to speak out about serious human rights violators means he is often choosing to fight with one hand tied behind his back,” Roth said, adding that China, Sudan, Myanmar and Sri Lanka were examples of countries where Ban had failed to condemn repressive actions. More

47 orgs reject Aust's deportation MoU with Afghanistan

January 27, 2011 Comments Off on 47 orgs reject Aust's deportation MoU with Afghanistan

SMH (AAP) – Afghan deportation agreement condemned

A plan to automatically deport failed Afghan asylum seekers from Australia has been condemned by a coalition of organisations and prominent experts.

The Australian government reached an agreement with Afghan authorities in mid-January under which failed asylum seekers will be sent directly back to the war-torn country.

Australian Immigration Minister Chris Bowen hailed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which formalised the pact as a major breakthrough in tightening Australia’s borders against people smugglers and non-refugees. More

Author joins call to boycott Galle festival

January 27, 2011 Comments Off on Author joins call to boycott Galle festival

AFP – S. African author Galgut boycotts S. Lanka lit fes

South African award-winning novelist and playwright Damon Galgut has boycotted a literary festival in Sri Lanka because of concerns over the country’s rights record, organisers said Thursday.

Galgut, a winner of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize in 2003 for “The Good Doctor”, set in post-apartheid South Africa, declined to take part in the Galle Literary Festival despite arriving in Sri Lanka this week, organisers said.

“We are sorry to announce that Damon Galgut has decided to lend his support to the ongoing international campaign by rights activists to highlight shortfalls in human rights here,” Shyam Selvadurai, the festival curator said.

“It’s an unfortunate situation for us that Damon heeded this ridiculous campaign,” Selvadurai told reporters. “But the festival will go on, with over 60 writers participating.”

Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and a Sri Lankan right group last week asked foreign writers to boycott the five-day Galle festival because of alleged rights abuses in Sri Lanka.

Galgut, whose latest novel, “In a Strange Room,” is shortlisted for the 2010 Man Booker Prize, was not immediately available for comment.

RSF said Wednesday that “hundreds” of Internet users had signed a boycott petition led by Noam Chomsky, Arundathi Roy, Ken Loach, Antony Loewenstein, Tariq Ali, Dave Rampton and R Cheran. More

SL goes back on its word…Surprise, surprise

January 27, 2011 Comments Off on SL goes back on its word…Surprise, surprise

Foreign Policy – Exclusive: Ban’s Sri Lanka war crimes panel stuck in New York

Sri Lanka has cut off direct talks with a U.N. panel set up in June to promote accountability for war crimes during the final stages of the country’s bloody 2009 offensive against Tamil separatists, U.N. officials told Turtle Bay.

The panel had been planning a trip to Colombo to question senior officials responsible for addressing massive rights violations during the conflict, but that visit is now unlikely.

Sri Lanka’s deputy U.N. ambassador, Maj. Gen. Shavendra Silva, who commanded troops during the war, wrote to the office of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon this month to say that going forward his government would only hold talks with Ban’s advisors, not with the panel investigating war crimes. U.N. officials say they fear Sri Lanka’s action, which comes one month after Sri Lanka’s U.N. ambassador, Palitha Kohona, invited the panel to Colombo, may be calculated to run down the clock on talks on a visit until the panel’s mandate expires at the end of February.

The dispute centers on the terms under which the visit would take place. Sri Lanka has agreed to a visit by the U.N. panel on the condition that its activities be limited to testifying before the Sri Lanka Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, which was set up by President Mahinda Rajapaksa last year to address the conflict and promote reconciliation between the country’s ruling Sinhalese and minority Tamils. The panel has demanded broader freedom to talk to a range of Sri Lankan officials...More

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