In the media today…

February 20, 2009 Comments Off on In the media today…

New Matilda : A Fight Without Good Guys

As tens of thousands of civilians try to flee the violence in north-east Sri Lanka, there are ominous signs that the military endgame won’t guarantee peace in the future, writes David Blunt

Civilian stories from the conflict zone on the north-east coast of Sri Lanka are finally beginning to emerge.

CNN: Sri Lanka media

Journalists in Sri Lanka have come under a growing number of attacks and intimidation according to media rights groups.

Asia Times : Two wars heat up India’s election

NEW DELHI – In this year’s national elections, there’s no hiding from history – or, if you like, geography. No escape from invocations of the 1971 Bangladesh war or the Indian army’s peacekeeping adventure in Sri Lanka in the late 1980s. Past wars have a life beyond memory and rhetoric, too. They live on in cyclical re-runs, in morphed forms. Or maybe they simply never end.

Thus it is with the Sri Lanka civil war and the India-Pakistan war of nerves sparked off by last November’s terror attack on Mumbai, two separate war fronts joined together only by the fact that they provide context to India’s general elections.

The Hindu : Stop military help to Sri Lanka: Jayasuriya

NEW DELHI: India should help stop the killing of Tamil civilian by immediately ending all military aid to the Sri Lankan armed forces, said Sri Lankan politician Siritunga Jayasuriya.

“The Indian government should set a positive example by stopping all its military support to the Sri Lankan government right now,” Mr. Jayasuriya told a meeting organised by civil society groups at the Press Club of India here on Thursday.

The Tribune : Speaker: I think Parliament should be adjourned permanently…

“I think the Parliament should be adjourned permanently. Useless allowances should not be given to you. You don’t deserve a paisa,” was the desperate reaction of the Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee today, after members ignored his repeated pleas to restore order in the House, and forced the adjournment of the question hour.

Mukherjee waited for 15 minutes for tempers to cool down, but eventually adjourned the proceedings at 11.55 am after reprimanding the MPs. “I express my greatest disappointment of your behaviour. You are taking the House for granted. I hope the country is watching this Parliament,” the Speaker said, as UPA allies PMK and DMK stormed the well of the Lok Sabha, shouting slogans and demanding the withdrawal of External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s statement on the ethnic strife in Sri Lanka, made yesterday.

In the media today…

February 19, 2009 Comments Off on In the media today…

Radio Netherlands: Interview with Suren Surendiran from British Tamils Forum
Suren Surendiran from British Tamils Forum speaks on the Tamils’ right for self-determination.

The Canberra Times: Time for Sinhalese ‘victors’ to unclench mailed fist
The greatest mistakes are made on the morrow of the greatest victories. Sri Lanka is now approaching a decisive victory in its 26-year battle against Tamil separatism, and it is about to make a very big mistake.

Inner City Press: In Sri Lanka, UN Has Casualty Estimate But Won’t Release, Why No Cease Fire Call Is “Theoretical Question,” Ban’s Office Says
With civilians dying daily in the conflict between the government of Sri Lanka and the Tamil Tiger militia, on Tuesday Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon’s spokesperson Michele Montas for the UN’s estimate of civilian deaths, and whether it is higher or lower that the 1200 figure used in the Gaza conflict earlier this year. Ms Montas replied that “we are trying to save people, not count bodies.”

The New York Times: Sri Lankan War Nears End, but Peace Remains Distant
Just north of here, after a string of recent victories, the Sri Lankan military is closing in on separatist rebels in what it calls the climactic battles of the country’s long-running civil war. But in this heavily militarized port city, there are no signs of jubilation.

Reuters: Children suffering the most in conflict – UNICEF
Just nine years old, Thevaki was trapped in the crossfire between government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and barely escaped with her life.

Catholic News Agency: Indian priests call for peace and aid for Sri Lanka
The Association of Diocesan Priests in India has issued a call for peace and solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka who are suffering from the war between government forces and Tamil rebels.

The Guardian, UK: Trapped Sri Lankans ‘dying in makeshift hospital’
Doctors treating refugees injured in intense fighting plead for evacuations and medical aid.

Canadian CBC Radio: Interview with Mrs. Wickrematunge, wife of Lasantha Wickrematunge, recently murdered Editor of Sunder Leader, Sri Lanka.

Militiary killing of Tamil Journalist a "War Crime" – Reporters Without Borders

February 17, 2009 Comments Off on Militiary killing of Tamil Journalist a "War Crime" – Reporters Without Borders

In a damning condemnation, press freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders labelled a suspected targeting killing of a Tamil journalist by Government armed forces a  “war crime”.

Punniyamurthy Sathyamurthy, 36 was killed during an air raid on 12 February on Thevipuram, Mullaithivu district in the region of Vanni.  He had recently filed news of the plight of civilians in the latest wave of fighting.

“The death of Sathyamurthy shows the extent to which witnesses to the military offensive have no protection. We call on the international community to secure a ceasefire to save the lives of these civilians,” the statement added.

The ongoing threat faced by journalists in Sri Lanka reaffirms Sri Lanka’s position as the 2nd worst democratic country in regards to a free press, in addition to being the worst human rights violator in South East Asia.

The killing  comes only weeks after international outrage over the assasination of prominent Sri Lankan editor Lasantha Wickramatunga, an outspoken critic of the current political administration. His death is widely believed to have been orchestrated by the Sri Lankan government.

In today's media…

February 15, 2009 Comments Off on In today's media…

CNN: London Tamils lament conflict
At a Hindu temple in London, the emotional connections to the distant conflict are intimate, and the pain is near. Watch video from source.

Toronto Community News: Tamil students protest outside school board
The 30-hour protest, which began Thursday at 10 a.m. and will wrap up Friday at 4 p.m., is aimed at bringing attention to the “genocide” being committed against Tamils in Sri Lanka, said Shoban Jayamohan, a Grade 10 student at Scarborough’s Albert Campbell Collegiate Institute.

The Telegraph, UK: Fears grow for civilians trapped in Sri Lanka battle
Sri Lankan opposition leaders and western diplomats believe these civilians risk being caught not just in the crossfire in the final battle of the 25 year civil war, but also in President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s sights as he seeks to silence all Tamil and dissident voices in a campaign of terror and repression.

Sky News: Giant Aid Convoy Leaves For Gaza
The aid convoy is the bold initiative of British MP George Galloway who – along with many other MPs, senior government ministers, church leaders, aid workers, BBC staff, film stars – was outraged when the BBC refused to air a Gaza Appeal after Israel’s devastating 3-week long war on a Palestinian population already suffering immense deprivations from Israel’s 18 months of punitive sanctions.

The convoy includes Kamahl Mashni from Australians for Palestine, who arrived in London in time to find himself assigned as one of the drivers of the fire engine leading the convoy.

The Independent : 
Fears for 200,000 civilians trapped between army and Tamil Tigers as Sri Lankan government rebuffs move by Gordon Brown.

The news that the Sri Lankan government has rejected Gordon Brown’s appointment of the former defence secretary Des Browne as special envoy comes as little surprise to anyone who has been following the situation there. The Sri Lankan government has become increasingly paranoid and defensive about all matters relating to the vicious civil war being waged in the north of the island.

Foreign Policy : US Senate Foreign Relations Committee to hear on Lankan crisis
Senator (Robert) Casey, who is planning his subcommittee’s first hearing on the recent violence in Sri Lanka Feb. 24,  envisions a robust agenda for the year, including hearings on Iran, Pakistan, Iraqi refugees, and the nuclear programs in the Gulf states. 

Senator John Kerry :  Kerry and Lugar Concerned About Humanitarian Situation in Sri Lanka
Senator Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D – Mass.) and Ranking Committee Minority Member, Senator Richard Lugar, issued the following statement today expressing concern about the deteriorating security situation in Sri Lanka:

Yahoo News : Top US Senators worried over Sri Lanka violence
Two senior US Senators on Monday jointly urged Sri Lanka’s government and Tamil Tiger rebels to safeguard civilians and ease humanitarian access to areas affected by the deadly conflict.

Union of Catholic Asian News : INDIA  Catholic priests urge India to intervene in Sri Lanka
A forum for Catholic priests in India says the country should intervene to save innocent people in neighboring Sri Lanka.

In today's media…

February 14, 2009 § 1 Comment

The Independent: Robert Evans MEP: Who can protect Tamil civilians caught in the conflict?
Whilst the Sri Lankans claim that they are merely trying to eliminate terrorism, the real victims are, as ever, the civilians trapped by the fighting. All the evidence suggests that unless the international community acts very soon, about a quarter of a million people could be caught in a ghastly bloodbath. The Sri Lankan government has urged Tamil civilians to come over to their side for protection, but there is a strong reticence and fear of such a move.

The Independent: Leading article: A military victory that will sow the seeds of hatred
The Tamil Tigers might be crushed, but this will not heal a divided island

Associated Press: Hospital in Sri Lanka war zone overwhelmed
A makeshift hospital serving Sri Lanka’s war zone is badly understaffed, running out of crucial medicines and overwhelmed by a flood of civilians wounded in intense fighting between the government and the rebels, the top doctor there said…None of the remaining doctors are surgeons or anesthesiologists, but they were all performing emergency surgeries in an operating room they set up by throwing up a curtain and moving a table into a classroom, he said.

BBC: Sri Lanka shelling kills four more civilians: official
Four civilians died when artillery shells fell on a home for the elderly inside a demarcated safe area within Sri Lanka’s war zone, a doctor said Saturday.

The Telegraph, UK: Sri Lanka plans to hold displaced Tamils in ‘concentration camps’
Aid groups, senior opposition leaders and Britain’s Department for International Development have all denounced the plan, which was on Friday compared to Hitler’s demonisation of the Jews in the 1930s. Former Foreign minister Mangala Samaraweera, a former close aide to President Mahinda Rajapaksa, said it was part of a police to paint all Tamils, even moderate opponents of the Tamil Tigers, as potential terrorists and to silence all Tamil voices.

Winchester Local: Starving for peace: WHS junior joins 10,000-meal fast as humanitarian crisis worsens in Sri Lanka
On Feb. 2, Priya Suntharalingam, a junior at Winchester High School, began a fast. She joined eight Americans who renounced all food in support of civilians under attack and languishing without basic necessities in Sri Lanka.

CNN's latest video reports

February 13, 2009 Comments Off on CNN's latest video reports

Journalists at risk

More videos from CNN:
Cluster bombs hit near hospital
Sri Lankan response
Suffering in Sri Lanka
Media in the cross hairs
Sri Lankan civilian nightmare

Barbed wire villages raise fears of refugee concentration camps

February 13, 2009 Comments Off on Barbed wire villages raise fears of refugee concentration camps

The Times reported today…
Click here for full report.

Summary:
Sri Lanka is planning concentration camps to hold 200,000 ethnic Tamil refugees from its conflict zones for up to three years, and seeking funding for the project from Britain. It says that it will be compulsory for people fleeing the area to live in the camps until the army — which will guard them — has screened them, hunted down the Tigers and demined the area.

The camps will be ringed with barbed wire fencing and, while those with relatives inside will be allowed to come and go after initial screening, young and/or single people will not be allowed to leave, it says.

Local and international political figures, aid and human rights groups have voiced outrage at the proposal and have compared the camps to concentration camps build during the Nazi regime. Robert Evans, a British Labour MP who has visited Sri Lanka as chairman of the European Parliament Delegation on Relations with South Asia: “These are not welfare camps, they are prisoner-of-war cum concentration camps.”

The Sri Lankan government has responded by saying Amnesty, Human Rights Watch and international aid agencies are prejudiced towards the Tigers, and for that very reason the Government would limit aid groups’ access to camps and allow journalists to visit only on government tours.

The Sri Lankan government also said there was talk that Britain may provide “a couple of million pounds” towards the project but Britain’s Department for International Development denied that: “Prolonging the displacement of this vulnerable group of people is not in anyone’s interests. There is no UK government money going into the camps.”

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