SL must be held to account

October 29, 2009 § 1 Comment

Crikey: Time to stand up for human rights in Sri Lanka — at last

Jake Lynch, director of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPACS) at the University of Sydney, 29 October 2009

Sri Lanka Week has shrunk to a long weekend. The trade and investment shindig in Melbourne’s Docklands was scheduled to take place in June, but was called off amid outrage over the Sri Lankan army’s pounding of Tamil areas and UN estimates of 20,000 deaths. It’s back on, from Friday to Sunday, promising visitors “the opportunity to feel and experience the taste of paradise”.

Instead, we should remember 300,000 inmates who are being held against their will in a living hell — the giant internment camp at Menik Farm — in violation of their rights under international and Sri Lankan law. Alarming eyewitness testimony trickles out, of food and clean drinking water in desperately short supply, filthy conditions and — for any who might be tempted to protest to the occasional foreign visitor — the ever-present threat of disappearance.

That’s a fate that has befallen thousands over the years, in Sri Lanka’s dirty war with the Tamil Tiger rebels, which ended just over five months ago. Various commissions of inquiry were set up, only to fail in bringing any of the culprits to justice: a “sham”, in the words of Amnesty International. So the bullies carry on with impunity, and impunity incentivises repetition: we got away with it once, why not do it again? More

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SL IDPs, war-crimes "smokescreen" & more

October 29, 2009 Comments Off on SL IDPs, war-crimes "smokescreen" & more

Tamilnet: Vanni IDPs in Jaffna not allowed to go to Vanni

28 October 2009

The Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) of Vanni origin detained in Sri Lanka Army (SLA) detention camp in Raamaavil in Thenmaraadchi have to stay in the camp if there are no relatives in Jaffna to take them over, according to Jaffna Secretariat sources. Though the government campaigns that Vanni IDPs will be resettled in their own villages, in reality they are not allowed to return to their homes, NGOs in Jaffna said. More

Tamilnet: 60 transferred IDPs arrested from transit centres in Trincomalee

27 October 2009

Sri Lanka Army Intelligence personnel have been ‘screening’ the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who were being transferred in recent days from Vavuniyaa internment camps to transit centres in Trincomalee and have arrested 60 IDPs for interrogation and ‘rehabilitation’. More

AFP: Sri Lanka’s war-crimes probe a smokescreen: activists

28 October 2009

Sri Lanka’s agreement to probe war crimes allegations related to its defeat of Tamil Tiger rebels is a smokescreen to avoid an international inquiry, a human rights group said Wednesday.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused Sri Lanka of trying to buy time and questioned the sincerity of the government’s decision to investigate the allegations detailed in a US State Department report.

“The government?s committee is merely an effort to buy time and hope the world will forget the bloodbath that civilians suffered at the end of the war,” HRW Asia director Brad Adams said. More

HRW: Sri Lanka: Domestic Inquiry into Abuses a Smokescreen

27 October 2009

The Sri Lankan government’s proposal to create a committee of experts to examine allegations of laws-of-war violations during the conflict between the government and the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is an attempt to avoid an independent international inquiry, Human Rights Watch said today.

The government made its proposal in response to a report by the US State Department, published on October 22, 2009, that detailed hundreds of incidents of alleged laws-of-war violations in Sri Lanka from January through May. According to conservative UN estimates, 7,000 civilians were killed and more than 13,000 injured during that period, the final months of fighting. More

Zee news: UN official says will investigate Sri Lanka’s execution tape

28 October 2009

The UN Special Rapporteur on arbitrary executions has said he is initiating inquiries into the video tape showing incidents of alleged extra judicial killings by the Sri Lankan Army.

“I have begun to commission some analysis of that video tape because I do think it is incumbent upon me and I think I owe it to the government of Sri Lanka to try to probe more deeply,” Philip Alston told journalists here.

In August, footage surfaced showing a Sri Lankan soldier shooting at point-blank range a bound and blindfolded Tamil rebel. The video also shows eight bound corpses – reinforcing allegations about executions by Sri Lankan Army. More

Newstodaynet: Eelam the only solution: Vaiko

28 October 2009

In a fiery speech, MDMK general secretary Vaiko today declared only an independent state of Eelam would be a permanent solution to the long sufferings of Lankan Tamils who were now lodged in refugee camps in the island nation.

Speaking at an awareness meeting organised by Lankan Tamil Protection Movement, MDMK chief said at at time when the world nations have expressed sympathy and concern for the plight of internally displaced Tamils in Sri Lanka, Chief Minister M Karunanidhi was taking part in functions that eulogise him.

He cited a reported in London-based Times that said more than 20,000 bodies of Lankan Tamils were left to rot in the open land and corpses have spread out with bones sticking out on the surface. ‘Wheres the Indian media is under duress not to report such incidents in war-torn Lanka,’ he charged. Vaiko said more than a lakh of Lankan Tamils were killed during the ethnic genocide and it was claimed in posters that a four-day visit by Tamil MPs from India to Sri Lanka had given freedom to refugees in the internally displaced camps. ‘Those who are responsible for such posters must be sent to mental asylum,’ he said. More

News: White vans, asylum seekers & more

October 28, 2009 Comments Off on News: White vans, asylum seekers & more

The Age: Holding on to hope for Sri Lanka’s missing

Matt Wade, 28 October 2009

SAMSUN Nihara’s pain shows in her dark eyes. Her husband and son disappeared more than a year ago.

Her nightmare began last September, when her 24-year-old son, John Reid, vanished. He and his fiancee were returning from a trip to a beach north of Colombo, when the van he was driving was blocked by four armed men on two motorcycles.

They hijacked the van, dropped the woman at a busy Colombo intersection and sped away. Mr Reid has not been seen since.

The family’s crisis deepened a month later, when Ms Nihara’s husband, K. A. Anthony, became the target. Four men burst into the tiny two-room home in central Colombo at 4am and took him away.

”I saw them all,” says Ms Nihara. ”They said they were from the military – one was in uniform.” More

SMH: White vans spread misery

Matt Wade, 28 October 2009

The Age: Morality and Politics don’t mix

Shaun Carney, 28 October 2009

The current political argument over asylum seekers is one occasion when, superficially at least, our parliamentary system works: all sides get an airing, reflecting the breadth of views across the community. We should let them all in, we should keep them all out, some will be terrorists, some will be diseased, most of them are legitimate, most are frauds, we should take full responsibility for any boat headed for Australia, we should share responsibility with Indonesia.

You don’t have to move around our society too much before coming across those views, whether you like some of them or not. Few issues divide Australia more thoroughly or prompt such a degree of contempt between the opposing sides. More

SMH: Rudd’s policy belies the brutal honesty of Christmas Island’s names

David Marr, 28 October 2009

Christmas Island is a place of brutally honest names. Above The Settlement on a mountain of petrified bird shit called Phosphate Hill is a cluster of tin huts that once housed construction workers. Though now fenced, guarded and filled with asylum seekers it’s still called the Construction Camp.

Anyone visiting this place – as Human Rights commissioners Catherine Branson, QC, and Graeme Innes did a few months ago – can tell this is a secure detention centre holding lots and lots of children. They found 53 there and counted 36 without families, children who had made their way to the island on their own.

There were children everywhere when I visited the Construction Camp a few weeks later. After being signed in and giving up my mobile phone, I was led under escort to a big tin hut where women and children were gathered for a session with the nurse. The place was clean and grim. Underfoot was a wild bunch of Tamil children. More

Brisbane Times: Indonesia governor rebels on refugees

Tom Allard, 27 October 2009

AN INDONESIAN governor has lambasted Kevin Rudd’s policy of warehousing asylum seekers in his province, declining to allow the Australian Customs vessel Oceanic Viking to berth and railing against the notion Riau Islands should become a ”dumping ground” for irregular immigrants.

The outburst came as the Australian judge who decided the Tampa case, Tony North, criticised the United Nations’ processing of refugees and called for an international tribunal to ensure asylum seekers were not subject to a ”lottery”. The raw hostility of the Indonesian governor and other senior politicians in Riau Islands to the arrival of 78 asylum seekers from Sri Lanka on board Oceanic Viking casts serious doubts over the agreement between the Australian Prime Minister and Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono for Indonesia to take more potential refugees seeking to come to Australia. More

The Australian: ‘We’d rather die than go ashore here’: Sri Lankan asylum-seekers

Simon Kearney, 28 October 2009

THE 78 Sri Lankan asylum-seekers aboard the Oceanic Viking have threatened to kill themselves rather than walk off the ship and be interned in Indonesia.

The Australian visited the ship, anchored in the South China Sea 10km southeast of the island of Bintan, yesterday morning to find the Sri Lankans in an open area below the top deck at the stern.

They told their story by throwing messages in plastic bags tied to empty plastic water bottles into the water. Three messages were written in Indonesian and a fourth, containing this chilling threat, was written in English.

“If your country don’t want find us a good solution better we will close our life in here,” the unsigned letter said. More

Reuters Alertnet: Sri Lanka behind closed doors

HPN, 27 October 2009

In July 2009, a Times journalist reported that 1,400 people had died in Manik Farm camp following fierce fighting between the Sri Lankan army and Tamil Tiger rebels (LTTE). This article looks at the truth behind these claims and the difficulties faced by humanitarian aid agencies in assessing the conditions faced by the displaced in the camps. More

Crikey: Question Time fun: See Kevin run. See Kevin hide.

Bernard Keane, 28 October 2009

Can the Prime Minister run and hide? With this Opposition, probably. Still, the pursuit of the Prime Minister over the Oceanic Viking made, inter alia, for a rather more interesting Question Time yesterday than we’ve had in some months.

The Government’s line on the Oceanic Viking — expertly put by a cool and impressive Stephen Smith on ABC Radio this morning — is essentially sound. Australia assisted Indonesia to aid a stricken vessel in its waters. Those on board don’t get to pick and choose where they go having been rescued.

Nevertheless, various parties on the Left and the Right are hellbent on whipping this into a Tampa-esque crisis. And the Government is constrained by its own rhetoric from stating the obvious: this is essentially an Indonesian matter.

It’s a bit like all those questions about schools spending that Julia Gillard fielded earlier in the year, in which she had to answer for the bodies actually implementing the schools component of the stimulus package- state education authorities. But because this Government is all about “ending the blame game”, any reference to State bureaucrats stuffing up could never pass Gillard’s lips.

In the same way, you won’t hear Rudd declare that the people rescued by the Oceanic Viking are Indonesia’s responsibility, even when they are. Not when he is heavily dependent on “regional cooperation” to help keep the boats away.

This made for elaborate ducking and weaving in Question Time yesterday. Five times the Prime Minister was asked about what he knew about arrangements relating to the vessel. Five times he avoided the question, giving brief answers full of fudge like “the normal agency of the Australian government” and “I cannot recall each step in that sequence of events” and “there are diplomatic negotiations which occur between governments”.

“Tough but humane” eventually appeared, although a much-anticipated and — as always -– unprompted refusal to make any apology didn’t.

He tried to throw his pursuers off — first with a reference to the “dirt-digging” email , for which a question had been reserved for a Anthony Albanese comedy routine later. That didn’t work, despite Rudd blatantly defying the Speaker and continuing to discuss it after he was told to stay relevant. But, asked a fourth time, he succeeded, baiting the Opposition and particularly Philip Ruddock and Kevin Andrews into an angry exchange over the detention of children and children overboard.

Both Ruddock and Andrews rose to complain — quite how it is possible to reflect in any way adversely on Ruddock’s integrity in a way he failed to achieve during his time in office is one of the sublime mysteries of Australian public life, but that didn’t stop him remonstrating — as did a number of other Opposition figures.

It was in the ensuing uproar that Speaker Jenkins appeared to come close to doing his block, with a particularly extended version of his schoolteacher trick of staying silent until everyone notices and shuts up. The silence went on so long Christopher Pyne eventually and hesitantly ventured “are you going to speak?”

Things settled down after that. The Opposition switched to infrastructure and other matters. Albo got to do his comedy routine about the Opposition email on digging dirt, reprising his e-security routine from the Godwin Grech incident. The question had been scheduled for earlier but the outbreak of animosity occasioned by the asylum seeker questions prompted them to delay it. Christopher Pyne then asked Julia Gillard about education, prompting her to approach the Dispatch Box carrying only her pen, always a sign she’s about to bite. She didn’t disappoint, giving a brief but vintage performance full of swipes at The Australian, the lack of Coalition policy and Pyne’s “bellows and yaps”.

Jenny Macklin later rose and spoke, quite movingly, about the apology to the Forgotten Generation, supported by an emotional Steve Irons. The momentary imposition of genuine feeling briefly imposed a sense of civilized behaviour on the House, although it didn’t last too long.

What about Wilson, I hear you ask. Wilson had a quiet day by his standards, until the end. Irons asked Justine Elliot about the numbers of aged care places in Perth. She was three sentences into her answer when Wilson rose to declare “this is a question about supplying assistance and facilities to aged people with dementia. It is wrong for the minister to raise issues either of the past or, more particularly, to read a diatribe of expenditure that is not materialised. Give the old people a go!”

Needs no comment, really.

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Reuters Alertnet: India offers $100 mln to help Sri Lanka refugees

S. Murari, 18 October 2009

India offered Sri Lanka on Sunday $100 million to help war refugees return home and rebuild the country’s ravaged north, as New Delhi seeks to engage in the island nation’s post-war reconstruction and retain influence.

Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram said India was willing to provide the aid package to Sri Lanka if it submitted a “plan of action” on rehabilitation of Tamil civilians.

“Our concern is that the displaced Tamils should be resettled in their homes as early as possible,” the minister told reporters in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. More

Tamil National: Unlock the camp: Rally in London against Sri Lanka

18 October 2009

Several thounsand Tamils marched through Central London Saturday, 17 October to protest against the continued detention of civilians in Sri Lankan camps and calling to end 150 days arbitrary detention in camps and for an international independent probe into war crimes.

Over 280,000 Tamil civilians including at least 50,000 children in miserable and squalid conditions are illegally kept in camps run by the Sri Lankan military.

British Tamil Forum and Tamil Youth Organization (UK) jointly organized the protest rally urging to unlock the camps and end 150 days of forced detention of civilians, international independent probe into war crimes and Ban Ki-Moon charged with inaction. More

Report proves crimes against humanity

October 27, 2009 Comments Off on Report proves crimes against humanity

The Guardian – Stop Sri Lanka’s crimes

The US is the latest country to join the ever-growing list of nations that condemn Sri Lanka for its violations of international humanitarian law, crimes against humanity and related harms in its fight against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

The government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) is complicit in almost all the acts listed in the Rome statute of the international criminal court in its definition of crimes against humanity, according to evidence in a report published by the US state department for Congress on 22 October.

The report highlights deaths due to starvation as a result of the government’s restriction of supplies. It also indicates that the supply of medicines to the injured, disabled and sick was restricted. None were spared.

Satellite images show hospitals being targeted, and there are images which indicate heavy weapon usage, aerial bombing and cluster bombs. Eyewitness accounts outline the targeting of civilian areas and surrendering unarmed combatants being shot in cold blood. Video evidence shows alleged military executions of young naked men.

Who would argue against a damning report? Only Sri Lanka. More

Tamil asylum seekers

October 26, 2009 Comments Off on Tamil asylum seekers

The Age: When the boat comes in

Colleen Ricci, 26 October 2009

The long-simmering asylum-seeker debate boiled over when a boat carrying 255 Tamils bound for Australia was redirected to Indonesia.

What happened in the Sunda Strait?

An asylum seeker is someone who has left their country of origin in search of a haven and recognition as a refugee.

A phone call from Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono resulted in the interception of a boat carrying 255 Tamil asylum seekers by the Indonesian Navy in the Sunda Strait. Though on its way to Christmas Island, where Australia has a large, custom-built detention centre, the boat was diverted to the Indonesian port of Merak, in western Java.

These Tamils from northern Sri Lanka, who included 27 women and 31 children, pleaded with Mr Rudd to accept them in Australia. They refused to disembark for fear of being deported or sent to allegedly overcrowded and harsh Indonesian detention centres, where they could face many years before being resettled elsewhere. More

The Age: Green urges sanctions against Sri Lanka

AAP, 25 October 2009

Greens Leader Bob Brown has urged the federal government to consider sanctions against Sri Lanka amid concerns about the treatment of the nation’s Tamil population.

More than 250,000 people remain in camps in Sri Lanka after being displaced as a result of a long-standing civil war, which came to an end earlier this year.

Australia should be helping to stem the flow of asylum seekers by ramping up pressure on Sri Lankan authorities, Senator Brown said.

“There should be a lot more pressure on the Sri Lankan authorities to be treating the Tamil populations with a great deal more decency than what we’re seeing at the moment,” Senator Brown told the Nine Network.

“We need to see more action from Australian governments at flashpoints in our own region if we are going to stop this pressure for people to be leaving boats and seeking asylum here in Australia,” he said. More

Brisbane Times: An agonising wait

David Marr, 23 October 2009

She’ll never eat Magi chicken noodle soup again. “All we had was one cup of water and one cup of Magi noodle soup per day, but everyone was sick all the time.” In a tin shed on Christmas Island, this young Tamil was taking a break in a session called to help women cope with the stress of detention.

I never knew her name. She arrived in late June, one of 193 Tamils on the biggest boatload of asylum seekers to reach the island for eight years. The make-up of the place was changing. Christmas Island was once full of Afghans. Now at least half those held on that rock – nearly 600 of about 1100 detainees – are Tamils fleeing post-civil war Sri Lanka. More

PSLweb: Australia unleashes racism against Tamil refugees

Amanda Todd, 25 October 2009

In a blatant act of racism, the Australian government, on Oct. 18, intercepted and turned away a boat with 78 Tamil asylum-seeking refugees. The refugees have been sent to Indonesia. Earlier this month, Australia diverted another ship with over 250 refugees to Indonesia. Refugees on that boat jumped over the side, fearing that the Indonesian government would deport them back to Sri Lanka.Numerous other ships have also been turned away. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has called the Tamils, who are escaping from government concentration camps in Sri Lanka, “illegal immigrants” who are trying to take advantage of Australia’s “generosity.” More

Samantha Maiden, 26 October 2009

A BOATLOAD of 78 asylum-seekers kept in limbo for eight days after they were intercepted by the Australian Navy is now 10 nautical miles off the coast of Indonesia.

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith told Parliament the Tamils were expected to be transferred to an Indonesian detention centre close to Singapore today.

They were picked up by an Australian Navy vessel in Indonesian waters last week and were ultimately accepted by Indonesian authorities on humanitarian grounds. But after expectations they would be taken to a nearby port they were redirected thousands of kilometres away to a detention centre in Indonesia. More

Ship anchored as asylum seekers wait

Emma Rodgers, 26 october 2009

Asylum seekers on board an Australian Customs vessel anchored off the coast of Indonesia have ended their hunger strike, Home Affairs Minister Brendan O’Connor has confirmed.

Mr O’Connor has also revealed that a lone asylum seeker will be taken to Christmas Island after being found by authorities last night on an island in the Torres Strait.

The 78 Sri Lankan asylum seekers have resumed eating ahead of their arrival at Tanjun Pinang on the island of Bintan later today, after being picked up by the Oceanic Viking in international waters last week.

They will be taken to a detention centre, which is partly funded by Australia, where some detainees allege they were beaten by guards. More

UN says investigate the war crimes in SL

October 26, 2009 Comments Off on UN says investigate the war crimes in SL

UN Calls for War Crimes Investigation in Sri Lanka

Lisa Schlein, 25 October 2009

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights is calling for an independent, international investigation of possible war crimes committed during the last few months of the war in Sri Lanka. The UN agency says there should be a full inquiry into what did or did not happen during the final stages of the country’s long-lasting civil war.

The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights says too many questions related to the last stages of the war between the government and Tamil Tiger rebels remain unanswered.

UN Human Rights Spokesman Rupert Colville says something like the Gaza Fact-Finding Mission is warranted, given the wide spread concerns about the conduct of the war between the government and Tamil Tiger rebels. More

More SL news this week

October 26, 2009 Comments Off on More SL news this week

Le Monde diplomatique: Rehabilitating the tigers

Padraig Colman, 22 October 2009

Five months on since the defeat of the Tamil Tigers, Sri Lanka is trying to come to terms with its post-war problems. Despite ongoing international concern over the plight of Tamil civilians in government-run camps, there are new signs of reconciliation. These are apparent in the way the authorities are dealing with former LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) rank and file members.

Measures have been taken to rehabilitate some 10,000 LTTE fighters – many of whom were forcibly conscripted by the separatist rebels. On 20 September the Justice and Law Reforms ministry announced a $23m programme called Reintegrating ex-LTTE Cadres into Civilian Life, in association with the International Organisation for Migration. The United States, Japan, Britain and India have promised financial assistance to the programme; Unicef and INGOs will be helping; and many big Sri Lankan companies have offered their support.

International concern

The concern over the situation of Tamil civilians still living in government-run camps for internally displaced people (IDPs), expressed by foreign governments, the UN and international NGOs, is genuine and justified. Some of it has been fuelled by Tamils living in the West, Malaysia and India – mainly in the state of Tamil Nadu where people take a keen interest in the welfare of Sri Lankan Tamils, especially conditions in the IDP camps, and have demanded that the Sri Lankan government speed up the process of releasing the inmates. More

Sky News: Greens urge sanctions against Sri Lanka,

25 October 2009

Greens Leader Bob Brown has urged the federal government to consider sanctions against Sri Lanka amid concerns about the treatment of the nation’s Tamil population.

More than 250,000 people remain in camps in Sri Lanka after being displaced as a result of a long-standing civil war, which came to an end earlier this year.

Australia should be helping to stem the flow of asylum seekers by ramping up pressure on Sri Lankan authorities, Senator Brown said.

‘There should be a lot more pressure on the Sri Lankan authorities to be treating the Tamil populations with a great deal more decency than what we’re seeing at the moment,’ Senator Brown told the Nine Network. More

The Hindu: U.N. human rights chief calls for probe into Sri Lanka conflict

B. Muralidhar Reddy, 25 October 2009

The office of the United Nations human rights chief has said that an inquiry is needed to find out whether war crimes were committed in the final stages of the war between the security forces and the LTTE in Sri Lanka.

The suggestion came two days after the release of the U.S. State Department’s report that detailed alleged war crimes. Colombo rejected the report as “unsubstantiated and devoid of corroborative evidence”.

The BBC quoted a spokesperson for the U.N. Human Rights Commissioner, Navi Pillay, as saying that the allegations of war crimes were so serious that the fighting in Sri Lanka required an inquiry similar to that recently carried out into the Gaza conflict. More

Hindustan times: UN wants Gaza-style human rights inquiry in Sri Lanka’s last phase of war

Sutirtho Patranobis, October 24, 2009

The United Nations wants an inquiry similar to the one that looked into fighting in Gaza to determine if war crimes were committed in Sri Lanka in the final months of its 26-year war between government troops and the LTTE, which ended in May this year.

“There hasn’t been a full inquiry into what did or did not happen in the last months of the war,” Rupert Colville, a spokesperson for the U.N. High Commissioner of Human Rights, was quoted by Reuters as having said in Geneva. More

WGNTV.Com: Former Tamil Tiger child soldiers try to reclaim their childhood in postwar Sri Lanka

Krishnan Francis, 24 October 2009

Vinojan’s boyhood ended when Sri Lanka’s civil war reignited.

Fifteen at the time, he says he joined the separatist Tamil Tigers to save his older brother from forcible conscription, and became a reluctant fighter as the rebels fought their last, desperate battles for survival.

Now, having won the war, Sri Lanka is trying to make patriotic citizens out of child soldiers like Vinojan and others who just months ago were fighting against the nation.

———–

Meanwhile, the government is working to ensure they don’t pick up arms again. But it has done little to fulfill its pledge to tackle the Tamils’ long-standing grievances by sharing some power with them.

The ex-fighters’ treatment stands in stark contrast to the plight of nearly 300,000 displaced Tamil civilians who are held in overcrowded government camps in the north. U.N. officials have pressed for their release and aid workers fear coming rains could lead to outbreaks of disease. More

Tamilnet: Sri Lankan Flag to be hoisted in Jaffna Fort

25 October 2009

Son of Sri Lankan President Rajapaksa, Namal Rajapakse, who is presently staying in Jaffna along with the 250 youths he brought from the South will be officially hoisting the Sri Lanka Lion Flag Sunday in Jaffna Fort, sources in Jaffna said. In 1996 when Sri Lanka Army (SLA) occupied Jaffna, the then Deputy Defence Minister, Anurathe Rathwathe had ceremoniously hoisted the Sri Lankan Flag in the esplanade in front of Jaffna Fort. Tamils protested vehemently when Sinhala parties adopted the lion flag as the national flag soon after British left the island. Opposition to the flag, since then, has been part of the Tamil national movement. More

Tamilnet: SLA refuses permission to Jaffna civilians in Vavuniyaa camps to return home

25 October 2009

More than 300 families from Jaffna district, now detained in Sri Lanka Army (SLA) internment camps in Vavuniyaa, who had applied to return to their original places are held back as Jaffna SLA high command has refused clearance to them, sources in Vavuniya said. The clearance is denied as they are under suspicion and considered a threat to security, SLA authorities claimed. More

Tamilnet: US rescinds invitation to Fonseka to attend Hawaii event

25 October 2009

The US government has withdrawn the invitation earlier extended to Major General Sarath Fonseka, former Commander of the Sri Lanka Army and currently holding the post of Chief of Defence Staff, to attend a farewill event to US Pacific Command (PACOM) Commander Admiral Timothy J.Keating at PACOM headquarters in Hawaii, Colombo’s English weekly, the Sunday Times reported in its political column quoting diplomatic sources. More

Tamilnet: Tamils hold “Will Break the Obstacles!” rally in Berlin

25 October 2009

Tamil Diaspora in Germany gathered Thursday in Berlin to stage a protest march in an effort to draw the attention of the international community to the pathetic plight of Tamils interned in Sri Lanka Army (SLA) camps. Two youths, representing students in Tamil Nadu, T. Sreenivasa Rao and Iraa. Gnanasekaran, on their journey in Europe to take part in the UN conference on Global Warming Awareness in Denmark on 7 December, took part in the march and rally. They have made it their duty to raise their voices for the interned Tamils, in all the countries they pass through, sources in Berlin said. More

Mainstream: Behind Sri Lankan Bloodbath

24 October 2009

Colombo’s victory over the Tamils shows India’s power is on the wane.

Thousands of non-combatants, according to the United Nations, were killed in the final phase of the Sri Lankan war this year as government forces overran the Tamil Tiger guerrillas. Nearly five months after Colombo’s stunning military triumph, the peace dividend remains elusive, with President Mahinda Rajapaksa setting out—in the name of “eternal vigilance”—to expand by 50 per cent an already-large military. Little effort has been made to reach out to the Tamil minority and begin a process of national reconciliation. More

The Age: Freedom of speech vanishing in Sri Lanka

26 October 2009

FEARS over declining media freedoms in Sri Lanka have intensified after a newspaper editor was held by police and questioned about a report alleging tension between military officials and the Government.

Chandana Srimalwtte, editor of the popular Sinhalese-language newspaper Lanka Irida Sangrahaya, was detained by armed police and questioned for publishing a report detailing tensions between military chief General Sarath Fonseka and the Government.

Srimalwtte was in custody for more than three hours and investigators have made two subsequent visits to his office to question him. More

The Times of India: Tamil scholar hesitant to attend classical Tamil meet

M Gunasekaran, 25 October 2009

A renowned Sri Lankan Tamil scholar chosen to head the main research session in the Tamil Nadu government’s World Classical Tamil

Conference due to be held in June 2010, on Saturday expressed reservations about participating in the meet, as he feels the Tamils in the island nation are not satisfied with chief minister M Karunanidhi’s response to the plight of their community.

Karthigesu Sivathamby, 77, emeritus professor in Jaffna university and secretary general of the International Association of Tamil Research (IATR), told the Times of India over telephone from Colombo that he had written to the Thanjavur Tamil University vice chancellor M Rajendran, who is coordinator for the international event, that Tamils in his country felt that “the chief minister has not responded well enough to the Sri Lankan Tamil crisis, and that Tamils expect a favourable response from him”. More

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