October 9, 2009 Comments Off on Amnesty and EU speak out. What now?
Amnesty International – Sri Lankan displaced trapped between the military and the impending monsoon
A quarter of a million Sri Lankans now being held in de facto detention camps are facing a humanitarian disaster as monsoon rains threaten to flood camps, said Amnesty International on Thursday.
Months after the government of Sri Lanka set up camps in Vavuniya District in the north-east of the country following the end of the conflict there, the authorities are still failing to deliver basic services.
Camps remain overcrowded and lack basic sanitation facilities and heavy rains in September saw rivers of water cascading through tents with camp residents wading through overflowing sewage.
“People living in these camps are desperate to leave. The government must ensure that the displaced are treated with dignity. They have a right to protection and must be consulted on whether they wish to return to their homes or resettle,” said Yolanda Foster, Amnesty International’s Sri Lanka expert, who is in contact with relatives of people inside the camp
The EU acknowledges that Sri Lanka does not comply with human rights obligations, yet still grants it trade preferences
In 2005, when the EU’s generous tariff preferences arrangement, the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP+), was under review, Romano Prodi challenged why, of the countries in the region, Sri Lanka should be granted GSP+ status instead of, say, India or Pakistan. The then Sri Lankan prime minister argued that GSP+ benefits would assist in post-tsunami reconstruction. Sri Lanka’s case prevailed on the strength of the then peace process and the existence of an internationally sponsored ceasefire agreement of 2002, which position found resonance with the EU but which the government of Sri Lanka unilaterally abrogated in January 2008.
Sri Lanka’s government on Thursday sought an additional 39.6 billion rupees ($345 million) to fund its military, a 20 percent increase from the original defence budget despite the end of a 25-year war against Tamil Tigers in May.
ThaiIndia News : Protest against Sri Lankan diplomat over “irresponsible” comment
Hundreds of Tamils and pro- Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) supporters staged a demonstration in Chennai on Thursday, demanding the Indian government to initiate steps to immediately send back Sri Lankan Deputy High Commissioner Vadivel Krishnamoorthy.
October 8, 2009 § 1 Comment
The UK says it will soon withdraw all but emergency funding for the camps where about 250,000 displaced Tamils are confined in northern Sri Lanka.
The announcement came after the UK Development Minister Mike Foster visited the biggest camp at Menik Farm.
He said 70% of people should be able to leave and stay with host families.
Britain urged Sri Lanka yesterday to free 250,000 Tamils detained in camps since the defeat of the Tamil Tigers in May, warning that an outbreak of disease triggered by imminent monsoon rains could claim dozens of lives.
Mike Foster, the Minister for International Development who is visiting Sri Lanka, also said that Britain would no longer provide any funding for the controversial barbed wire enclosures once the monsoon was over in two months.
He added that many other donor countries were taking a similar position to put pressure on the Government to release the 250,000 Tamils who were detained after fleeing the frontline in the last stages of the 26-year-civil war.
Vatican Radio – Calls for Sri Lankan Government to release Tamil refugees
Religious leaders in Sri Lanka committed to helping Tamil refugees have demanded that President Mahinda Rajapaksa release the over 200 thousand internally displaced people from refugee camps where they continue to suffer hardship and isolation.
Bishop Thomas Savandaryanagam of the Jaffna Diocese says that the government’s efforts are slow, but priests and sisters are able to offer some hope to refugees living in the camps suffering from a isolation and idleness.
More than 2,000 temporary shelters for civilians displaced in Sri Lanka’s recently-ended ethnic war were destroyed by gale force winds, a press report said Sunday.
The damaged shelters were part of camps where 250,000 people remain detained after government troops defeated the separatist Tamil Tiger rebels in May, the Sunday Times here said.
The storm damage increased concern for the welfare of the Tamil civilians who have endured primitive conditions in the state-run camps, the newspaper said.
In Sri Lanka, local media are reporting that more than 2,000 temporary shelters for civilians displaced in Sri Lanka’s ethnic war have been destroyed by gale force winds.
Sri Lankan army spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara says however, there’s no evidence of widespread destruction to temporary shelters, he says the reports emerged as a result of exaggerations and lies.
The reports are difficult to verify, because reporters have been barred from entering the camps and the army has granted only limited access to aid organisations. An estimated 250-thousand people have been living in government-run camps and not allowed to leave, since Sri Lanka’s army defeated the separatist Tamil Tiger rebels in May.
A quarter of million displaced Tamils are in dire humanitarian need of being allowed out of internment camps which face flash floods in Sri Lanka‘s monsoons, a British minister said after visiting refugees.
Mike Foster, a British international development minister, said he had been allowed unfettered access to the Manik Farm camp in the country’s northern Vavuniya district, which Tamil war refugees cannot freely leave.
“There’s a pressing humanitarian need for the civilians to be allowed to leave the camps,” said Foster. “Although conditions have improved the tents are basically disintegrating. With the monsoons we will have sewage floating around – water-borne diseases will be rife.
“We will not be prepared to fund closed camps after the monsoons.”
Western governments have finally discovered what remains of their backbone over Sri Lanka.
Britain told the Sri Lankan Government today that it would no longer fund routine services inside the camps where more than a quarter of a million ethnic Tamils have been detained since the defeat of the Tamil Tigers in May.
Mike Foster, the Minister for International Development, who is visiting Sri Lanka, said that many other donor nations were taking a similar stand to put pressure on the Government to release the inmates before the imminent monsoon rains, which could cause a massive outbreak of disease in the overcrowded conditions.
October 3, 2009 Comments Off on Review of Patriot Act: American tamil doctor plaintiff in appeal
The Supreme Court has agreed to review a civil liberties dispute over the government’s power to criminalize “support” of a terrorist organization.
The justices on Wednesday accepted review of a key provision of the 2001 Patriot Act, and whether it threatens free speech rights of those who would assist non-violent activities of designated groups.
Another plaintiff is an American physician who wanted to help ethnic Tamils in his native Sri Lanka. Much of the island nation is controlled by the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, which has also fought for decades to carve an independent state. The government claims the Tamil Tigers have “used suicide bombings and political assassinations in its campaign for independence, killing hundreds of civilians in the process.”
HLP and a group of Tamil doctors say they merely wanted “to provide their expert medical advice on how to address the shortage of medical facilities and trained physicians” in the region but “they are afraid to do so because they fear prosecution for providing material support.”
June 12, 2009 Comments Off on AMA Press Release about missing Tamil doctors
AMA (NSW) has voiced concern for the safety and wellbeing of three doctors missing in Sri Lanka since Friday 15 May 2009. In a letter to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Stephen Smith MP, AMA (NSW) President Dr Brian Morton called on the Australian Government to demand the Sri Lankan Government account for the missing doctors.
Dr Thangamuttu Sathiyamoorthy, Regional Director of health services in Kilinochchi, Dr Thurairajah Varatharajah, Regional Director of health services in Mullaitivu and Dr V. Shanmugarajah, were employed by the Sri Lankan Government to treat sick and wounded civilians trapped in the conflict zone and continued to do so in makeshift facilities even after shelling and bombardment attacks.
The doctors had reported on conditions in the conflict zone, banned to journalists. Amnesty International has received reports doctors V.
Shanmugarajah and T. Sathiyamoorthy may currently be held at the Terrorist Investigation Division in Colombo and Dr Varatharajah has been seriously injured. The doctors’ families remain unsure of their whereabouts and do not have access to a lawyer.
“Despite the doctors’ heroic efforts to help thousands of displaced civilians amid ongoing threats to their own personal safety, it is now widely feared they may be held prisoner in reprisal for providing information about civilians in the conflict zone,” AMA (NSW) President, Dr Brian Morton said.
Andrea Kunz (02) 9439 8822/ 0407 776 581
Tanzeem Parkar (02) 9439 8822/ 0419 402 955
April 25, 2009 Comments Off on AP – Rebels warn of starvation in Sri Lanka war zone
Tens of thousands of civilians trapped in Sri Lanka’s northern war zone are facing starvation, the Tamil Tiger rebels warned Saturday as the U.N. sent its top humanitarian official to assess the crisis.
Reports of chaos in the northern war zone have increased in recent days as the Sri Lankan military pushed forward with its offensive to destroy the rebel group and end this Indian Ocean island nation’s bloody, quarter century civil war.
April 22, 2009 Comments Off on MSF talk of SL govt's inability to care for Tamil civilians
MSF treating hundreds of wounded arriving from Sri Lankan war zone
According to international humanitarian law, when a government does not have the ability to provide basic needs to its citizens, it is obliged to allow international aid agencies to provide this care. The report by Médecins Sans Frontières shows that the Sri Lankan government is breaching this law.
There are over 1200 patients and the bed capacity is just over 400. “It’s chaotic” says Karen Stewart “the beds have been pushed together so it’s like one massive bed. Instead of having one person per bed you have two, it’s just like one huge bed across the ward. Then there’s a whole other layer on the ground, we have people under every bed, so that’s double capacity. You also have a lot of people who are outside in the walkways lying on mats.”
People arriving from the war zone are put into temporary government run camps in Vavuniya which are fast reaching maximum capacity. Families are cramped together, in some cases an entire family has to live in the space of a sofa. There is no freedom of movement in between the camps and only a minority have been able to find out any information about their loved ones who might be in other camps. “This” says Karen “is one of the biggest causes of mental health distress. They arrive, wounded, lost and skinny and then they are put in a camp where they can’t leave and they can’t call their family. They have no communication, they have nothing. There can be a husband and wife in two separate camps and they would never know.”
April 5, 2009 § 1 Comment
On the spot report – Some incidents which cannot be forgotten
by Lawrence Christy, Planning Director, TRO – updated on 30th March, 2009.
ICRC is evacuating wounded and sick to Trincomalee by ship. At the same time International Community in general and ICRC in particular should put pressure on Sri Lankan government to stop shelling civilian targets and killing and wounding hundreds of civilians daily and allow sufficient food, medicines and non food items to be brought from the South.
A doctor in the Mathalan hospital told me that they had to do a cesarean operation on a wounded pregnant woman. The baby was born dead with a shell shrapnel inside its stomach. In another case a baby was born with both legs severed by shell piece. Both mother and baby were dead.
April 3, 2009 Comments Off on Foreign Secretary David Miliband issues a written ministerial statement on SL
The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (David Miliband): Together with my right hon Friend the Secretary of State for International Development, I would like to update the House on the current situation in Sri Lanka, our continuing concern and the action we have been taking.
The fate of civilians caught up in the fighting in the north of Sri Lanka between the government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is the most pressing concern. It is vital that they are able to move away from danger to safety.
March 31, 2009 § 2 Comments
Please see below a statement from M.I.A. (Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam), a British-Tamil songwriter, record producer, singer, fashion designer and artist supporting the “Mercy Mission to Vanni” (www.vannimission.org)
I just had a baby last month, that’s why I can’t be there today, but I want to give my support and thanks to the launch of the chartered humanitarian ship Mercy Mission launching March 31, 2009.
I made it out in the late 80’s and so my baby is going to grow up with hospitals, healthcare, food, free education, freedom of speech and religion, a life expectancy of 80-90 years and many of the liberties that we in democratic world take for granted.
A baby born in the Vanni Region today is getting no access to hospitals (they bombed the last one and it’s run out of supplies.) There is limited food because the government banned the aid agencies and there is no education because the trapped civilians only have one option and that is to make it to the government-run internment camps where they only enforce the language and ideas of the government. The Tamils have less rights then the animals in Sri Lanka.
The Mercy Mission will carry dry food and medicines for Tamil civilians in Vanni within the Sri Lankan Government’s “safe zone.” Many have already perished from starvation and preventable disease. We can not ignore these genocidal conditions, and if the aim of the SL Government is to protect the lives of the civilians, then this ship will reach its destination and lives will be saved.
Thank you very much,
Maya Arulpragasam (M.I.A.)
March 17, 2009 Comments Off on Humanitarian medical mission, to the Vanni conflict zone