January 24, 2012 Comments Off on 2012 Human Rights Watch Report on Sri Lanka
The aftermath of Sri Lanka’s quarter century-long civil war, which ended in May 2009 with the defeat of the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), continued to dominate events in 2011. In April United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon released a report by a panel of experts that concluded that both government forces and the LTTE conducted military operations “with flagrant disregard for the protection, rights, welfare and lives of civilians and failed to respect the norms of international law.” The panel recommended the establishment of an international investigative mechanism. Sri Lankan officials responded by vilifying the report and the panel members.
The government has failed to conduct credible investigations into alleged war crimes by security forces, dismissing the overwhelming body of evidence as LTTE propaganda. The government’s Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), characterized as a national accountability mechanism, is deeply flawed, does not meet international standards for such commissions, and has failed to systematically inquire into alleged abuses.
In August the government allowed emergency regulations in place for nearly three decades to lapse, but overbroad detention powers remained in place under other laws and new regulations. Several thousand detainees continue to be held without trial, in violation of international law.
June 15, 2011 Comments Off on The truth is – nothing will be done about it
If you’re the Sri Lankan government, then you probably want Jon Snow’sSri Lanka’s Killing Fields (Channel 4) to go away. It certainly refused to make any official comment about the documentary. Channel 4 also looked as if it rather wanted this film to go away as it buried it in a late-night slot, long after most people have gone to bed. The stated reason for this was that some of the scenes were so graphic and distressing they might upset viewers. But this was precisely the reason it should have been given primetime billing. Schedulers always seem to forget that every television has an off switch and that people can make up their own minds about what they are watching.
Much of the footage, which documented the summary executions, rape, torture and bombing – all apparently sanctioned by the Sri Lankan government – of tens of thousands of Tamils in the last days of the civil war after the UN pulled out of the country in September 2008, was shocking. Soldiers filmed laughing on mobile phones while they shot bound prisoners in the back of the head. Civilian women lying dead on the ground, having been raped and mutilated by the government troops to whom they had tried to surrender. Hospitals being targeted.
Most disturbing of all, though, was the clip of UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon being given a whistle-stop PR tour of a refugee camp by Sri Lankan government officials, and failing to talk to a single Tamil about their experiences. The survivors said that it was at that point they knew they had no human rights. To this day, Ban Ki-moon rejects his own organisation’s report that the Sri Lankan government was complicit in war crimes. How can we take the UN seriously when it talks of war crimes in Libya and its leader ignores them elsewhere? Or are war crimes in the third world not so important?
Monday night’s Terry Pratchett film about the assisted dying of a man suffering from motor neurone disease provoked plenty of discussion; I suspect the Sri Lanka‘s Killing Fields will generate next to none. Ban Ki-moon and the Sri Lankan government will be delighted.
June 11, 2011 Comments Off on The government is scared of the Tamil people…
■ Jude Lal Fernando is a research fellow and lecturer in Buddhist-Christian dialogue at the Irish School of Ecumenics, Trinity College Dublin. He is a member of the Irish Forum for Peace in Sri Lanka (IFPSL)
November 25, 2010 Comments Off on Israel 'key' supplier of arms to SL
Lanka Business Online and Pakistan Defence – Sri Lanka Navy Gets Fast Attack crafts from Israel
Sri Lanka Navy is acquiring more fast attack craft as its role shifts to protecting the island’s exclusive economic zone following the end of a war, navy commander Vice Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe said.
“We are acquiring six fast attack crafts,” he told a news conference held to announce the navy’s plans to celebrate its 60th anniversary.
“Four crafts have already been delivered and we’re getting the other two in January.”
Samarasinghe told the latest vessels were acquired from Israel and were bigger than previous craft and capable of going further out to sea as the navy focuses on protecting its exclusive economic zone.
Israel has been one of the key suppliers of arms, technology & expertise to Sri Lanka.
Fast attack craft supplied by Israel in the early years of the 30-year ethnic war, which ended in May 2009, helped the navy fight the ‘Sea Tiger’ naval wing of the Tamil separatists and prevent arms smuggling.
“We now need bigger vessels as our focus shifts to protecting the country’s economic wealth in the oceans,” Samarasinghe said.
Elaborate plans to mark the navy’s diamond jubilee on December 09 include a naval exhibition, an international symposium and a sail-past that includes vessels from foreign navies, including the USA, UK, Russia, China, India & Iran.
Samarasinghe said the navy is the first line of defence for the island nation and would increase vigilance of the seas and coastline.
Sri Lanka navy gets attack craft, focus on guarding ocean wealth – LANKA BUSINESS ONLINE
November 22, 2010 Comments Off on Lanka wins in Indian Ocean battle
As India and China jostle for influence in the Indian Ocean region, the island nation of Sri Lanka seems to be getting unintended economic benefits.
China has pledged more financial assistance as Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa visited Shanghai Expo exhibition earlier this month.
China is already the biggest lender for the Indian Ocean island. Sri Lanka’s Deputy Minister for Economic Development Lakshman Yapa Abeywardene says that China has, so far, pledged more than $3bn (£1.9bn) for infrastructure development, maintenance and other projects.
“China has been investing in Sri Lanka when many other countries were reluctant to invest during the war,” he tells BBC Sinhala service.
China has finished the first phase of the major sea port of Hambantota on the southern Sri Lankan coast – Mr Rajapaksa’s hometown – and is funding a new airport in the south. Chinese firms are also rebuilding roads in the north.
Many other projects are already in the pipeline, including handling a Special Economic Zone, a 900 megawatt coal-fired power plant and the Colombo-Katunayake expressway, the road connecting the capital with the island’s only international airport.
China is also funding port projects in Chitagong in Bangladesh and in Pakistan and Burma.
November 10, 2010 Comments Off on Images from North Sri Lanka
Shelley Morris & Off the Kerb Gallery would like to invite you to a Charity Photographic Exhibition of images from North Sri Lanka…
“The Sound of Silence”
I’ve just arrived home sweet home after three weeks in the northern parts of Sri Lanka, an area that was previously controlled by the Tamil Tigers, until their bloody defeat by the Sri Lankan military last May. Still dominated by the military, checkpoints at every corner, many of the provinces still declared as high security zones, and a strict ban on any foreigners. As you can imagine, many of these factors did not work in my favour.
I passed through the first major military checkpoint a few weeks ago, with bated breath and heart beating a little quicker than usual. The oppressive territory I was entering did not welcome me and I was well aware of it. The barren landscape was unsettling, stories of injustice and ongoing terror left me feeling so helpless. Countless women who had lost both children and husbands. Families destroyed, and minds tormented.
Nothing can prepare you for seeing and experiencing the aftermath of war. A feeling of angst deep in my soul, when confronted with such insurmountable suffering, came to me quickly, and it did not leave. I hope and pray that it never leaves me…
Shelley Morris is a humanitarian photographer based in Melbourne. She recently travelled to Sri Lanka to work on a personal photographic documentary. The aim of this project was to highlight and document the ongoing after effects of the recent war on Sri Lankan people. Through highlighting these personal stories Shelley hopes to raise the awareness of why Australia should not turn its back on political refugees but rather have a humane and accepting immigration policy.
I feel that through exhibiting these images’ barriers will be broken down towards demystifying the term ‘refugee’. Currently the Northern areas of Sri Lanka are closed to foreigners however I was able to gain access into the North. I was really both shocked and saddened by what I saw and the stories that I heard. The body of work which I would like to exhibit is both confronting yet purposeful. Upon returning I felt compelled to raise the awareness of the needs of these people, and I feel it is important to advocate and raise awareness to others about their stories.
Off the Kerb is a proud sponsor of this charity exhibition.
Friday 19th November, 6pm – 9pm
19th – 21st November, 2010
Off the Kerb
Gallery & Studios
66B Johnston Street
p (03) 9077 0174
m 0400 530 464
June 18, 2010 § 2 Comments
For immediate release – 18th June 2010
AUSTRALIAN TAMILS BACK GREENS CALL FOR UN WAR CRIMES PROBE IN SRI LANKA
Tamils for Greens is urging political support for a motion to be proposed on June 21st by Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young asking Australia to back calls for a United Nations investigation into alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka.
“The United Nations, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and International Crisis Group have all called for an independent investigation into war crimes. Regrettably Australia is continuing to put its trade and economic interests with Sri Lanka before human rights” said Tamils for Greens spokesperson Nathan Sri.
The motion, to be proposed on Monday, follows a damning report by the International Crisis Group which cited evidence, including video footage and testimonies from frontline soldiers, highlighting the complicity of top ranking Sri Lankan Government and military officials in atrocities carried out during its campaign against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
The report also condemned the LTTE, who were annihilated in May 2009, for its human rights abuses.
“Despite the Sri Lankan Government’s claims to the contrary, an independent inquiry into war crimes is vital in holding those responsible for the massacre of civilians. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd must start showing leadership and speak out against the injustices which last year alone, left up to 40 000 Tamils dead” said Nathan Sri.
NOTICE OF MOTION
Senator Sarah Hanson-Young
I give notice that, on Monday 21 June, I shall move:
That the Senate
i) The recent report from the International Crisis Group on War Crimes in Sri Lanka
ii) This report, recommends, among other things, for the United Nations to authorise an independent international inquiry into the alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka during the last year of the conflict
(b) Calls on the Australian Government, as an active member state of the United Nations, to encourage the UN to investigate the alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka.
Tamils for Greens is a national advocacy group endorsing The Australian Greens party.
The group’s formation is a direct response to growing disenchantment within Australia’s Tamil community towards the Government and Coalition’s lack of concern regarding human rights violations in Sri Lanka and continued demonisation of refugees.
For more information or media interviews call Nathan Sri: 0418457837