Friday, January 31, 2014

Sri Lanka govt asks more time: to alter the demographic composition and the linguistic and cultural identity of the North a and East - TNA

TNA leader R.Sampanthan
'The I.T.A.K. states that the Government is engaged in implementing a programme, the objective of which is to further alter the demographic composition of and alter the linguistic and cultural identity of the Northern and Eastern provinces. When the Sri Lankan government states that it needs more time, it only means that it needs more time to implement the said programme which is being vigorously pursued by the Government. '

TNA Central Committee decisions 26.01.2014 

JHU wants Northern Provincial Council dissolved

NPCThe Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) today called on the Government to dissolve the Northern Provincial Council (NPC).
The Government affiliated political party said that the Governor of the Northern Province should dissolve the council as a result of the recent resolution adopted calling for an international war crimes investigation.

TRC plus 13 A and democratic reforms is the best solution - Natioanal Peace Council

The Sri Lankan government and the Tamil polity in Sri Lanka, together with sections of the international community, appear to be getting into inflexible positions  vis a vis the allegations of war crimes and violations of International Humanitarian Law. The Northern Provincial Council has adopted a resolution calling for the UN to establish an International war crimes investigation.  On the other hand, the government has asserted that the international community has no role in the matter of accountability.

US official arrives in Sri Lanka to push reconciliation

A top US official arrived in Colombo on Friday to push for reconciliation in Sri Lanka which is under increasing international pressure over rights abuses during its separatist war, diplomats said.
Nisha Biswal, the assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asia, will travel to a former war zone to meet with ethnic minority Tamil leaders as part of her two-day visit, a US embassy spokesman said.

Sihala Ravaya temporarily banned from protesting

Ruwan Laknath Jayakody
President of the Sihala Ravaya, Ven. Akmeemana Dayarathana Thera, including all the monks of the Sihala Ravaya, have been temporarily banned from engaging in protests.
The order was made by the Chief Magistrate, Colombo, Gihan Pilapitiya, during the hearing held on Thursday (30). The order had been made in relation to the protest organized by the Sihala Ravaya that was held on Wednesday (8) in front of the Prime Minister, D.M. Jayaratne's office. The decision to temporarily ban the Sihala Ravaya from protesting would be effective until the end of the trial.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Sri Lanka: Christians protest after attacks by Buddhist extremists

File photo
World Watch Monitor
More than 2,000 Christians gathered in Colombo on Sunday to protest against a perceived lack of religious freedom in Sri Lanka, following recent attacks on Christian places of worship by Buddhist extremists.
Two churches and a Christian prayer centre were attacked on Jan. 12 by Buddhist mobs claiming they were illegal and aiming to take Buddhists away from their religion.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Britain says domestic process should be credible, independent and transparent to be accepted by the international community.

 Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Hugo Swire in reply to a question by MP Stephen Timms  in the  House of commons on 27 Jan stated that “… any domestic process should be credible, independent and transparent to be accepted by the international community. We do not believe that any of the processes established to date by the Sri Lankan Government—such as the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission—meet these standards.”

Sri Lanka Govt. is killing our hopes: Wigneswaran

hopes dashed
  •  Northern Chief Minister claims councillors losing faith in Govt. will to assist with NPC work
  •  Says emotions are being vented through resolutions at NPC
  •  Slams President for refusal to change Chief Secretary of the Province
  •  NPC to send Ananthi to Geneva since she is best suited to speak of disappearances

Vavuniya, Sri Lanka: No home to call their own!

By Madhava Kulasooriya  
The people of Vavuniya have lived through a brutal civil war, and had harboured hopes that they would be able to enhance their standard of living after the conclusion of the war. However, nearly five years post-war, the people live in extreme poverty with little hope for better standards in the immediate future.
The inhabitants of an area in Vavuniya claim that even though they were resettled and have been living in a village for over three years, government authorities have not taken any measures to provide the village with any of the basic facilities necessary to live in relative comfort.

Sri Lanka clergy blame police for rising hate attacks

Graphic by Groundviews
Colombo — Sri Lanka's Buddhist hierarchy and other religious leaders accused police Tuesday of failing to prosecute those behind a recent wave of attacks on Christians and Muslims.
A multi-religious group led by Buddhist monks said the country had failed to grasp the threat posed by hate speech and attacks because local media reports had not been "impartial or factual".
"There is at present a public perception that such attacks are taking place due to failure of law enforcement authorities to take necessary action," said the Forum for Inter-Faith Dialogue (FIFD).

Thousands protest against government in Sri Lanka

Thousands of protesters from opposition parties, human rights groups, trade unions and media groups marched Tuesday in Sri Lanka's capital in a rare show of dissent against the government.
They held separate marches in Colombo, shouting slogans which accused authorities of corruption and mismanagement, and later came together for joint rally.

Sri Lanka's commission on war missing receives over 13,000 complaints

(Xinhua) -- An independent presidential commission appointed to investigate people who disappeared during Sri Lanka's three-decade conflict have received over 13,000 complaints, it said in a statement on Tuesday.
The Presidential Commission has received approximately 13,700 complaints of disappearances from all parts of the country.

Sri Lanka mass grave toll reaches 50

Press Trust of India  
Skeletal remains of at least 50 people have been dug out from a mass grave discovered in northeastern Sri Lanka, amid speculation that the remains were of Tamil civilians who had disappeared during the war with the LTTE.
Police spokesman and Senior Superintendent Ajith Rohana said further digging will be continued with the deployment of a team from the crime investigation department to assist in investigations.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Sri Lanka says international war crimes probe would bring 'chaos'

Mass grave informer war zone
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An international inquiry into war crimes in Sri Lanka would bring "chaos," and the government's national reconciliation process must be given several more years to work, a top aide to Sri Lanka's president said on Monday.

The Lalith Weeratunga Presentation ( and its lacuna )

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka
 Though I cannot say the same of his companions on the voyage, my friend Lalith Weeratunga embodies a rare combination of intelligence, ability, affability and civility. Going by media reports, he made a valuable presentation of the government’s case, in Geneva and the USA. Mr Weeratunga has made some very valid points on the dangers of an international accountability mechanism. The problem is that the case he presents is, in and of itself, inadequate to deter, defer or rally the support needed to defeat precisely such a dangerous move being made in Geneva.

The continuing divide between what is required to be done and what is done

Mullikulam in huts
Jehan Perera
In preparation for the forthcoming meeting of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva the government has sent its top civil servant, Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga to Geneva to put the government’s achievements into perspective. Since 2012 when the government lost the vote at the UNHRC and had to face a resolution calling on it to implement post-war recovery and accountability measures, the government has been seeking to get the best communicators working for it.

Sri Lanka: Sec. to the president, Lalith Weeratunga's presntation in Geneva

Here is the power point presentation contents of the secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga, which was presented to 70 +  diplomatic missions based in Geneva on 21 January 2014. 

US to press Sri Lanka again at UN rights council

AP News
WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States said Monday it will sponsor a resolution at the U.N. Human Rights Council that Sri Lanka is worried could call for an international investigation into allegations of war crimes during the island nation’s civil conflict.
Hoping to head off that threat, a top aide to Sri Lanka’s powerful president is in Washington this week, trying to persuade the Obama administration and lawmakers that Sri Lanka is on a path toward national reconciliation, nearly five years after crushing a quarter-century rebellion by ethnic Tamil fighters.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Sri Lanka’s Northern Council seeks international war crimes probe

Meera Srinivasan
Sri Lanka’s Northern Provincial Council passed a resolution on Monday calling for an international probe into the alleged war crimes committed during the country’s ethnic conflict.
The resolution comes less than two months before United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay is due to make a written submission to the Human Rights Council in Geneva, on the progress made by Sri Lanka in addressing accountability issues from the war crimes allegations.

In Sri Lanka an authoritarian Executive Presidency is acting as if the Constitution and the laws of the land are irrelevant in governance.

Authoritarianism or Democratic Governance? by Friday Forum 

There has been, in recent times, public discussion in regard to whether our country is moving towards an authoritarianism that undermines democratic governance. The President, Ministers and government spokespersons have consistently denied this allegation. They refer in particular to the recent elections in three provinces as indicative of a functional and vibrant democracy responsive to the needs of the people.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sri Lanka: Now it’s 45 skeletal remains; JVP calls for speedy, fair probe on Mannar mass grave

Mannar mass grave 
The number of skeletal remains found in the Mannar mass grave increased to 45 yesterday as a special team from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) recorded statements from the officials involved in the excavation of the remains. One more skeletal remain was unearthed yesterday.
A group of CID officers who arrived at the site at Thiruketheeswarm on Friday recorded statements of the Anuradhapura Judicial Medical Officer D.L. Waidyaratne and a forensic expert

25-year corporate tax holiday for US$ 1.3 billion offshore (China - ) Colombo Port City

Government has granted a generous 25-year corporate tax holiday to Colombo Port City, the Rs 172.4 billion (US$ 1.3 billion) project to reclaim more than 575 acres (233 hectares) of sea off Galle Face Green.
The project company, CHEC Port City Colombo (Private) Ltd, will also be exempt from tax on dividends for 25 years as well, as a host of other levies for a lesser period of time. The concessions were gazetted on January 24 under Section 3 (2) of the Strategic Development Projects Act.

Sri Lanka: ‘Taming and vanquishing’ of the judiciary

Justice Sriskandarajah
Kishali Pinto Jayawardene
In the wake of the untimely demise of Justice S. Sriskandarajah, President of Sri Lanka’s Court of Appeal this week, it may be opportune to look at the state of the Sri Lankan judiciary one year after the 2013 impeachment of Sri Lanka 43rd Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake. The late Justice Sriskandarajah had presided over the Bench which quashed the findings of a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on the impeachment. And has been observed in the wake of his death by others, this was a judge who had been successively overlooked by the President for promotion. At least in public perception, this bypassing was not entirely delinked from the part that the late judge played in that critical judicial process.

Sri Lanka; Another body blow to the public’s Right to Information

Live telecast of Parliamentary proceedings taken off the air to save Govt. skins
A step in the right direction that Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa took last December, to make parliamentary proceedings more accessible to the public, by allowing live telecast of proceedings over a cable network, came to an abrupt end this week, with the announcement that the transmission was being stopped.
 Deputy Speaker Chandima Weerakkody, in the absence of Speaker Rajapaksa who is away in Australia attending a conference, announced on Wednesday that the transmission was being stopped, but did not give a proper explanation for the termination.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

UK, US working on resolution on Sri Lanka

UK parliament

The United Kingdom and the United States are hard at work trying to garner support for the resolution against Sri Lanka to be submitted at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in March.
UK Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Mark Simmonds told the House of Commons that the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) network is already hard at work with the resolution’s main sponsor, the United States, to mobilise opinion and the necessary majority.
He also said that the British campaign at the Human Rights Council will be led at ministerial level.

House of Commons debates FCO report on Sri Lanka

british parliament
   We will use our position on the UN Human Rights Council to work with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and call for an international investigation. We will play an active role in building international support for that approach ahead of the March meeting. However, that we face an uphill struggle to secure the passage of an appropriately robust resolution at the UN Human Rights Council, but I assure him that the FCO network is already hard at work with the resolution’s main sponsor, the United States, to mobilise opinion and the necessary majority, and that our campaign at the Human Rights Council will be led at ministerial level. This was stated by the British Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Mark Simmonds  in the House of Commons during the debate on the “Fourth Report of the Foreign Affairs Committee” on 23 Jan 2014.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Four years on, the IFJ remembers Prageeth Ekneligoda and calls for overdue action

A one day fast was held calling for Justice
Today marks the four-year anniversary of the disappearance of Sri Lankan journalist and cartoonist Prageeth Ekneligoda. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is calling on the Sri Lankan Government (GSL) to properly investigate Ekneligoda’s case and prosecute all those guilty of attacking journalists and news gatherers since the Rajapaksa regime came to power.

Sri Lanka: SLFP disregards disciplinary report on Mervyn

The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) has not taken any special decision regarding Minister of Public Relations and Public Affairs, Mervyn Silva, even though a report on the disciplinary inquiry conducted against the minister was presented to the SLFP Central Committee.

European HR crusaders are similar to wolves in sheep clothing - President Rajapaksha

Europeans clamouring for Human Rights in Sri Lanka are akin to wolves sympathising with goats getting wet in the rain, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said. He said Western countries are talking of Human Rights without an iota of concern for the grievances faced by the people of all communities in the country.

 "Certain elements of our country are also supporting them," President Rajapaksa said at the annual prize giving of Ramanathan Hindu Ladies College, Colombo yesterday.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Mannaar Killing Field number rises to 43, site extent still not known

43 human skeletons have been recovered till Wednesday at Thirukkeatheesvaram mass grave in Mannaar, news sources in Mannaar said. The boundaries of the mass grave are yet to be established, according to the Judicial Medical Officer from Anuradhapura D. M. Waidyaratne. The JMO has also gone on record stating that it would take long time to establish how the killings had occurred. 

Secretary Weeratunga briefs Geneva diplomats on progress in national reconciliation

- Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the UN, Geneva 
Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga who briefed Permanent Representatives to the United Nations in Geneva at the Palais des Nations on Tuesday (21st January 2014) on ‘Progress in the reconciliation process in Sri Lanka’, has said the Government of Sri Lanka has done all that was humanly possible to implement the recommendations of the National Plan of Action on the implementation of the LLRC, since its approval by the Cabinet of Ministers in July 2012.

The continuing attacks on religious places of worship by Buddhist extremist mobs, the inaction of the Police and the silence of the mainstream religions and the mass media

23rd January, 2014
Statement condemning the continued attacks on religious places of worship by Buddhist extremist mobs, the inaction of the Police and the silence of the mainstream religions and the mass media
We the undersigned, strongly condemn the continuing attacks on places of worship by Buddhist extremist mobs, the inaction of the Police in the face of these violent attacks and their failure to take the assailants into custody, and the silence of the established religious institutions and mainstream media.

Sri Lanka: Note on The Commission on Disappearances sittings in Kilinochchi

Brito Fenando
·         Inquiry started focusing Kilinochchi District and covered 10 Grama Sevaka Divisions in 4 days.
·         Registered victims are called according to the GS divisions.
·          The staff interview all the persons who come there and new forms were also filled by the staff.
·         Three commissioners inquire the victims , one by one and refer them to the state councilors for recording further details.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Sri Lanka Disappearance Probe to Hear More Cases from North

A three-member panel appointed to probe disappearances during Sri Lanka's three-decade-long civil war will hear more cases in Tamil-dominated northern areas.          
The panel had received some 13,000 complaints of disappearances when it began their Kilinochchi hearings. 

Sri Lanka war crime allegations: Justice Minister calls for cross examination of accusers, verification

Rauff Hakeem
Justice Minister Rauff Hakeem yesterday said those who levelled war crime allegations against Sri Lanka should be cross-examined. Hakeem, who is also the leader of the UPFA constituent, Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), said that the veracity of allegations had to be ascertained and, therefore, specific allegations would have to be made in a court of law either here or abroad.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

SC grants leave to proceed for FR case on violent mob attack against place of worship in Weeraketiya

The fundamental rights case (Case Number 19/2013 SCFR) filed on behalf of the Jeewana Alokaya Church in Weeraketiya, which was violently attacked on 09th December 2012 and 18th March 2013, was granted leave to proceed after being called in the Supreme Court on 21st January 2014.

Navi Pillay urged to launch international investigation on missing persons

Stating the recent attacks and threats against Tamil activists in North and East who were in the forefront in the protests reprenting the victims of enforced disappearances, the committees representing the interests of the families and relatives of the disappeared persons in the North and East, on Monday urged UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Ms Navaneethem Pillay to appoint a Sri Lanka specific international independent UN working group to investigate enforced disappearances and abductions that have taken place in the North and East of the island.

British Foreign and Commonwealth Office releases report on human rights situation in Sri Lanka


    The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) released   its quarterly human rights report for the last quarter of 2013. In its report it states  that the Human rights situation in Sri Lanka had not improved in the last 3 months despite the intensified international focus on the country’s human rights issues. It says, the Sri Lankan External Affairs Minister told diplomats in December that a proposed Witness Protection Bill was nearly at the end of the parliamentary process and that the Commission investigating wartime disappearances extended its deadline to receive complaints.

Why international pressure has become necessary

Promises not kept
 Jehan Perera
Shortly after the end of the war in 2009, President Rajapaksa declared that in Sri Lanka there would no longer be an ethnic majority or ethnic minorities but only a majority who loved the nation and a minority who were traitors.  Apart from the warning inherent in this statement to those who were political dissenters, there was also the implication that a political solution based on the notion of ethnicities and majorities and minorities based upon them would be unnecessary after the defeat of the LTTE.  The logic of this position is that a political solution was only discussed because of the pressure of the LTTE, and now with its destruction there was no need to take that discussion forward.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Sri Lanka: MR says only 12,000 troops in the North

President Mahinda Rajapaksa says the number of soldiers based in the North has been reduced to 12,000 following the end of the war.
He said that around 60,000 – 75,000 soldiers were based in the North during the conflict but now there are only around 12,000 soldiers.

Sri Lanka: PC on Disappearances begins sittings

The Presidential Commission (PC) to Probe Disappearances commenced its sittings on Saturday (18) in Kilinochchi, ahead of the forthcoming UN Human Rights Council sessions, scheduled for March.
The Commission received oral and documentary submissions from 52 Tamils in Vannerikulam and Aanaivilunthan, in the Killinochchi District, yesterday, the second day of the sittings, the Secretary to the Commission, H.W. Gunadasa, told Ceylon Today.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sri Lanka: Foreign service or family service?

Sri Lanka: Protect Articles of Faith from Saffron terror

The Buddha was the first missionary; and the first to set the Wheel of the Dhamma in motion to reach the ends of the earth for the welfare of all beings. By his precept and deed he emphasised the right of every man to propound without bar the tenets of his religious beliefs provided the gospel beating did not trample upon the religious sensitivities of people who held a different creed.

Sri Lanka: We do not need a truth and reconciliation commission

Despite Sri Lanka’s most disgraceful history with a plethora of demonstrably useless Commissions and Committees established by successive Presidents, it is a matter for considerable astonishment that the Rajapaksa Presidency’s near desperate proposal of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission at the turn of this year, appears to have found support in some quarters of our society.

Sri Lanka, Right to Association: SF to HRC over Balapitiya incident

Army Commander Sarath Fonseka says he will lodge a complaint with the Human Rights Commission (HRC) of Sri Lanka over the incident in Balapitiya yesterday.
The police disrupted a public meeting at Balapitiya yesterday organised by the Democratic Party led by Fonseka saying permission had not been obtained to use loudspeakers.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Skull with open mouth adds to Mannaar killing field evidences

One of the skulls, recovered at Thirukkeatheesvaram mass grave in Mannaar had its mouth wide open bearing marks of torture injuries in the mouth. Four more human skeletons were located on Thursday, when exhumation resumed at the site. The SL police at the site blocked Tamil physician from Mannaar G Gunaseelan, who is an elected member of the Northern Provincial Council, from witnessing the exhumation. The Sinhala policemen sent him away from the site, news sources in Mannaar said.

sri Lanka: Mannar Mass grave fuels fear of thousands buried in the Northern war zone

mannar graveThe discovery of a mass grave containing more than 30 skulls in northern Sri Lanka has fuelled speculation that there may be many more like it containing the remains of thousands who went missing during the island nation's nearly three-decade war.

The police have suggested that the Tamil Tiger rebels it defeated five years ago could be responsible for the burial, uncovered near a historic Hindu temple in the district of Mannar.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Assault on other religions by Buddhist monks is an assault on Buddhism

"Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." ~Martin Luther King Jr. On a widely read website it was reported thus: 'Saffron terror descended upon the coastal town of Hikkaduwa in Sri Lanka's Southern Province on Sunday, 12 January 2014!'
'Mobs led by Buddhist priests launched attacks on two Christian churches while Sunday worship was in progress, demanding that the places of Christian worship should be closed down as they were unauthorized. One was an Assembly of God church and the other the Calvary Free church. The police remained spectators, being either unable or unwilling to prevent or stop the attacks on both churches.'

Sri Lanka - Attacks on churches: Muslim council raises concerns

The Sri Lanka Muslim Council raised concerns over threats faced by religious minorities in Sri Lanka following the latest attack on two churches in Hikkaduwa.
In a letter to President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the Sri Lanka Muslim Council said that Buddhist monks publicly claim to be the un-official police and continue to intimidate minorities.
“We kindly urge your Excellency to order the law enforcement agencies to rein-in these mobs that infringe on the peoples fundamental right to worship.

A month into digging, 36 skeletons recovered from mass-grave in Mannar


A group of construction workers who were laying water pipes stumbled across and unmarked mass grave in the North-Western town of Mannar. This is what has happened so far, and a bit of background.

Welikada Prison massacre inquiry report : The great eyewash

Welikada Prison massacre inquiry report is no less than a whitewash. Here is one palpable case as to why internal investigations conducted by the incumbent government are not worth their salt. The internal inquiry commissioned by Prison Reforms Minister, Chandrasiri Gajadeera, into the massacre at the Welikada Prison in 2012 has now ruled that the 27 prisoners, who were slaughtered in the prison riot, had in fact been killed by the prisoners themselves. Even by the standards of the incumbent government and its previous commissions, the latest commission findings are a bit of a stretch.

Welikada prison killings:Questionable conclusions

Unarmed prisoners shot dead
Ceylon Today editorial
 In an editorial in the aftermath of the riots that broke out in the Welikada Prison in November 2012, which left 27 inmates dead and scores injured, we said, "Such a catastrophic security breakdown in the prison system is appalling and the callous and unprofessional way in which this so-called security operation was conducted, must stand the test of transparency and accountability."

New Democrat MP Rathika Sitsabaiesan says she was followed, interrogated in Sri Lanka

Rathika Sitsabaiesan
OTTAWA—It took a day for Rathika Sitsabaiesan to realize she was being followed.
The first person to notice the men on motorbikes was her hired driver. On the day she arrived in Sri Lanka, where the 32-year old MP was born, he told her that people were following them.
“I was slow to catch on, because I didn’t expect it, I wasn’t used to it,” Sitsabaiesan told Torstar News Service in her first interview since returning to Canada on Tuesday.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Govt’s rights violations paved the way for foreign interference - JVP

Anura Kumara Dissanayake
The JVP today charged that the government’s continues violations of democracy and human rights, for the purpose of safeguarding its power, have created the opportunity for Western nations to interfere in Sri Lanka.
The government violated democracy and human rights for its power, JVP MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake said, adding, that security forces opened fire in Rathupaswala, Chilaw and Katunayake not for the country but for the sake of Rajapaksa family and the family’s power.

Rights Now challenges the Human Rights Commission's lame excuses on postponing National Torture Inquiry

Sudarshana Gunawardena.
Rights Now Collective for Democracy challenged the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) to be transparent about real reasons as to why the previously announced National Inquiry on Torture has been postponed, through a letter to the Chairman of the HRCSL from the Executive Director of Rights Now, Attorney-at-Law Sudarshana Gunawardena.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Sri Lanka: Few jobs for university grads in the north

Photo: Amantha Perera/IRIN
He might get into university,
but getting a job is another matter
COLOMBO, 9 January 2014 (IRIN) - University graduates in northern Sri Lanka, which is recovering from decades of civil war, are looking at a sparse employment landscape with few opportunities on offer, say officials.

“Those from the north face a much more difficult time than those from elsewhere in the country. New jobs are very difficult to find,” Rupavathi Keetheswaran, the government agent for the northern Kilinochchi District, the top public official in the area, told IRIN.

Press has obligation to foster respect for human rights - Prof. Savitri Goonesekere

Savitri Goonesekere
Following are excerpts of the keynote address made by Emeritus Professor of Law, Savitri Goonesekere on Monday at the inaugural session of the conference organized by the Sri Lanka Press Complaints Commission (SLPCC) on Self-Regulation and Ethical Reporting, to mark their 10th anniversary:

“The celebration of the 10th anniversary of the SLPCC and the inaugural session of this international conference is a location to declare victories and also to take stock in regard to the realities that confront the professionals of journalism both in our country and others represented at this meeting.

MOD ponders rehabilitating NPC member Ananthi - The Island

The Defence Ministry is seriously considering accommodating Northern Provincial Council (NPC) member Ananthi Sasitharan at a rehabilitation facility to prevent her from propagating separatist sentiments. She represents the Illankai Tamil Arasu Kadchi (ITAK), the dominant partner of five-party Tamil National Alliance (TNA) led by R. Sampanthan, MP.

She was elected to the NPC last September.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

US urged to reconsider stand on Lanka

The Government today urged the United States (US) to reconsider its position on Sri Lanka and back efforts towards achieving reconciliation in the country.
Justice Minister Rauff Hakeem said that instead of further polarizing the country, the international community, including the United States, must look at alternate mechanisms like encouraging a Truth Commission in order to see reconciliation being achieved in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka must move on political progress, if it wants to avoid persecution - Rajeewa Wijesinha

 Anti-Tamil political groups must be ousted – Prof. Wijesinha
Excerpts from the interview:
''But unless we get rid of this mindset, and move swiftly on fulfilling the recommendations of our own commissions, we will face disaster on all fronts soon.''
''But we cannot continue to demand trust and patience when there are no signs of movement;''
'' It would be good too if the TNA made it clear to the President that it wants to negotiate with people it can trust, perhaps with facilitation by India or one of the other countries mentioned. But the lunacy of the manner in which government responded to the initial South African initiative, by sending a delegation which then forgot the matter, indicates a myopia that will be difficult to get over. ''

Monday, January 13, 2014

Sri Lanka: Democratizing the North

Justice C.V. Wigneswaran

A dialogue on governance, development and vulnerability

Justice C.V. Wigneswaran, Chief Minister, Northern Provincial Council delivered the opening address at a discussion on "Democratizing the North: A Dialogue on Governance, Development and Vulnerability on January 10th at the Green Grass Hotel Jaffna. The dialogue was organized by the International Centre for Ethnic Studies (ICES). Justice Wigneswaran spoke on the Governance.

New Year 2014 is starting well for us. The War had got us into a cocoon in which we managed howsoever we could, not really appreciating the changes taking place locally and globally all around us.

Sri Lanka: Prayer centre in Homagama torched

A prayer centre in a home in Pitipana, Homagama has been set on fire by an unidentified group early last morning (Jan. 12).
Members of the house has been present when the event took place around 2.00am, police say.
On Jan. 11, a 'final warning' signed by a certain 'Sinha Senankaya' has warned to stop Buddhists being converted into Christianity using funds of World Vision. If not, they will not be responsible for the lives and property, the notice has further warned.

In Sri Lanka, Muslims replacing Tamils as perceived enemy

Eranga Jayawardena / the ASSOCIATED PRESS
Attacks on mosques in Sri Lanka have stirred anew religious tensions in this country, where about 9 per cent of the population — 1.4 million — practise Islam. Here a Muslim woman walks past a police barricade outside a mosque vandalized in Colombo in August, 2013. Cellphone cameras captured the ugly scene: Muslims being chased through the streets by maddened Buddhists.
The vandals had just attacked a mosque in the Grandpass neighborhood on the capital’s outskirts, falling upon Muslims at Friday prayers, smashing windows, then pursuing the worshipers with clubs, hurling stones. At least five people were hospitalized.

Torture: a common part of Sri Lankan police interrogations

Chaminda Priyantha Kumara, 32, was tortured over
a period of two days at Kalutara South Police Station

Critics decry brutal, corrupt criminal justice system
Chaminda Priyantha Kumara, a 32-year-old amputee, was about to begin a 130 km journey to deliver heart medication to his wife when he was surrounded by men at a bus stop in Kalutara, accused of theft, attacked and then arrested by police.
Kumara, who was initially accused of stealing a mobile phone and 680 rupees (about US$5.20), says that on the night of May 21 last year and the following day he was brutally tortured, publicly shamed and accused of additional crimes including petty theft, burglary and murder.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Sri Lanka: Monks lead protest on churches

A protest was staged in Hikkaduwa by monks and area residents today against Christian churches operating in the area. The protesters blocked a section of the Galle – Colombo road during the protest and our reporter in the area said that some property was also damaged. The monks who led the protest said that two Christian worship centers were operating without authorization and demanded that they be shut down.

Sri Lanka: The ‘hard parts’ of the LLRC report remains disregarded

‘After the heavy rains, some wetness remains’

The wholly reprehensible quotation which this column borrows for the title this week comes verbatim from the November 2011 report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC). This is where it quotes the head of the government linked Eelam Peoples Democratic Party (EPDP) when the LLRC questioned him in regard to specific allegations of enforced disappearances, extortion and extra-judicial killings leveled against the EPDP by Tamil civilians living in the North after the close of the war in 2009, (see at p174 of the LLRC report).

Warning: Vicious debt trap ahead!

Increasing foreign debt burden despite improved external finances
In spite of the Central Bank announcing that “Gross Official Reserves increased to US$ 7.1 billion (provisional) by end 2013″, the Government intends to borrow US$ 1.5 billion this year from international financial sources.
External finances have been improving owing to increased export earnings, large amount of workers’ remittances and higher tourist earnings.

US tells Lanka to seek the truth

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The government of the United States today encouraged the government of Sri Lanka to seek the truth over alleged human rights abuses through independent and credible investigations, and where relevant, have prosecutions.
The US Embassy in Colombo said that the US Ambassador-at-Large at the Office of Global Criminal Justice, Stephen J. Rapp, during his recent visit to Sri Lanka met with government and political leaders, civil society, and also toured former conflict zones.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Sri Lanka: Lawyers’ Collective marks impeachment, blasts government

Stanley Samarasinghe
The Lawyers’ Collective held a media conference, at the Nippon Hotel in Colombo yesterday, to mark the first anniversary of the impeachment of the 43rd Chief Justice of Sri Lanka, Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake.
They named the day as ‘Black Friday’. One year ago today the Parliamentary Select Committee report, on the charges set out in impeachment motion against Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake, was accepted.

Sri Lanka: 5 years after the War no Water nor Electricity in Northern and Eastern villages

Gotamini Hathurusinghe
 It can be safely said that 5 years after the war many villages, well over 60% have no basic utilities supplied to them by the government. There are huge implications for the well being and safety of these people as a result. The following are excerpts of a list of GNDs only in Vavuniya and Kilinochchi Districts, which have been provided to the writer by the villagers. The writer has an indepth knowledge about the North and East. Details of the other Districts will follow.

Low income earners in Sri Lanka living on one and a half dollars a day

Senior Minister Amunugama tells SAARC PCSCs
Don Asoka Wijewardena
Most low income groups in Sri Lanka are eking out an existence on just one and a half dollars a day and poverty is common among some local social segments, Senior Minister for International Monetary Cooperation and Deputy Finance Minister Sarath Aminugama said.


The Sentinel Project for Genocide Prevention/January 2014 
The risk of mass atrocities in Sri Lanka reached a critical threshold from January through May 2009, when the government of Sri Lanka intensified efforts to militarily eliminate the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) who had been fighting for an independent Tamil homeland since 1983. As hostilities escalated in the conflict zone, cinilians trapped  between the LTTE and Sri Lanka government's armed forces became victims of mass atrocity crimes.

Sri Lanka: US repeats call for ‘credible probe’

Ranga Jayasuriya
 The US Embassy yesterday reiterated the calls for ‘an independent and credible investigation’ into allegations of war crimes during the final phase of the war as US Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues in the Office of Global Criminal Justice, Stephen J. Rapp, toured the former war zones and met with the survivors.

US asked SL to use cluster bombs against Tigers

Shamindra Ferdinando
Even though the US recommended that the Sri Lankan government swiftly acquire cluster bombs to target the LTTE, the country never felt the need to do so, an authoritative official told The Island.
The US made the recommendation in the wake of the Oslo arranged Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) between the then Premier Ranil Wickreme-singhe and LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran. It was among a series of recommendations made to the Sri Lanka Army, Sri Lanka Navy and Sri Lanka Air Force to strengthen their capabilities during the CFA.

Friday, January 10, 2014

‘Have you ever addressed accountability issues in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan?’ Gotabhaya asks Ambassador Rapp:


Shamindra Ferdinando
Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa yesterday alleged that the US was undermining the post-war reconciliation process by strengthening the hands of those who had been propagating unsubstantiated war crimes allegations against Sri Lanka.

The US had made common cause with them for some strange reason at the expense of US-Sri Lanka relations, Defence Secretary Rajapaksa said.

U.S. embassy photo, tweet about civil war anger Sri Lanka military

Members of the Federation of National Organization (FNO) gather in front of the U.S. Embassy during a protest in Colombo January 9, 2014. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte
Members of the Federation of National Organization
(FNO) gather in front of the U.S.

By Shihar Aneez and Ranga Sirilal
COLOMBO (Reuters) - The U.S. embassy in Colombo posted a photograph on Twitter on Thursday which it said showed a site where the Sri Lankan army killed hundreds of families towards the end of the civil war in 2009, prompting an angry response from the military.
The final few months of the 26-year conflict were by far the bloodiest, and the government and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels blame each other for the deaths of tens of thousands of mainly Tamil civilians.

Sri Lanka: Parliamentarian offsprings to contest en masse

Anuradha Samuel
The progeny of a large number of parliamentarians – both in the government and the Opposition – will be contesting at the upcoming Southern and Western Province elections.
 Representing the United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) will be novices Minister Jeevan Kumaratunga's daughter Malsha Kumaratunga, Minister Kumara Welgama's son Senal Welgama, and Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena's son Pasinda Yapa Abeywardena. Also contesting will be Minister Piyasena Gamage's son Provincial Councillor Randima Gamage and former Minister Mahinda Wijesekara's son Provincial Councillor Kanchana Wijesekara.

Catholic bishops tell US: probe Sri Lanka's alleged use of cluster munitions in civil war

KRISHAN FRANCIS , Associated Press 
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Roman Catholic bishops in Sri Lanka's former war zone have called for an international war crimes investigation into the country's civil war including whether government forces used cluster munitions and chemical weapons in densely populated areas.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Enforced Disappearances in Sri Lanka: 2006-2013

This is a summary of a longer report. Please read it download it as a PDF from here or read it online here. All photos taken and provided by the author.
According to Article 7, paragraph 2(i) of the Rome Statute[1], an Enforced disappearance is defined as “…the arrest, detention or abduction of persons by, or with the authorization, support or acquiescence of, a State or a political organization, followed by a refusal to acknowledge that deprivation of freedom or to give information on the fate or whereabouts of those persons, with the intention of removing them from the protection of the law for a prolonged period of time”.

A list of Commissions and Committees appointed by GoSL (2006- 2013)

The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) has produced a table that contains basic information pertaining to Commissions of Inquiry (CoI) and committees appointed by the Government since coming into power in November 2005. Section I of the table examines the CoI and Section II contains information pertaining to key committees established during the specific time period. The Commissions listed in this document do not include those established by the National Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka except for the special hybrid inquiry proposed in collaboration with the Commonwealth Secretariat.The commissions and committees listed in this document are limited to those where information was publicly available as of 9 December 2013.

Download the full list from here or read it online here.

The pallbearers’ legacy

Lasantha Wickrematunge may have been killed, but his spirit lives on in those he left behind. Lasantha’s tribe, some of them exiled in far off lands, others – brow-beaten, hunted and still pushing the boundaries at home, continue to be a thorn in the side of the rulers and remain keepers of the flame
On 12 January 2009, a short distance away from the entrance to the Borella General Cemetery under a blazing afternoon sun, a photograph was taken. The crowded image shows throngs of mourners, wearing black or white, arms raised in protest as far as the lens could capture.

TISL wants Heads of Parliament to appoint Select Committee to probe national socioeconomic data

Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL), the national chapter of the global anti-corruption movement,has requested Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa and all the party leaders to take immediate action to appoint a Parliamentary Select Committee to investigate allegations against the accuracy and genuineness of national socioeconomic data released by the two official agencies of the government, the Department of Census and Statistics and the Central Bank of Sri Lanka.

Lasantha killing: Five years on

Dilrukshi Handunnetti
Five years is a long time, when one waits for justice. But all of us have waited – family, friends, colleagues, citizens, readers, the rights groups and many others. It had been one painful wait, more so, because within the deep recesses of our hearts, we are aware of the identities of the wrongdoers.
 There are of course, many others who have had to wait for justice much longer than we have and one might even argue that it is 'normal' to experience the kind of violence we had to deal with, in a country that was devoured by war for nearly three decades. But, for those individuals, families and communities affected by such murders and violence, those who yearn for normalcy and closure, each day is painful and a denial of justice.

Lanka ready to face resolution at the UNHRC

KeheliyaThe Government says it is ready to face any resolution the US presents on Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council in March this year.
Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said that the Government is aware the US is in the process of gathering information on Sri Lanka and how such information is being collected.

Sri Lanka: 32 human skeletons exhumed in Mannaar mass grave

Six more human skeletons were exhumed at the genocidal mass grave at Thirukkeatheesvaram in Mannaar on Tuesday, in addition to the already exhumed 26 skeletons since December 20. The exhumation will resume on 16 January Thursday, legal sources in Mannaar said. 
 The exhumation of the mass grave was being carried out at the presence of Mannaar District Judge Ms Ananthy Kanagaratnam and Judicial Medical Officer from Anuradhapura D.L. Wydiaretna.
The District Judge has instructed the Sri Lankan Police to safely store the skeletons recovered so far, news sources in Mannaar said.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

New US resolution on Lanka will push for CoI at UNCHR

The United States (US) will be submitting a new resolution on Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva in March, a US official has said.
Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran said that the visiting US Ambassador-at-Large at the Office of Global Criminal Justice, Stephen J. Rapp had mentioned this when he met a TNA delegation in Colombo.
Sumanthiran told the BBC Tamil service that the resolution will push for an independent international investigation into war crimes in Sri Lanka.