Friday, 24 October 2014
Home Tamil Affairs International Affairs Editorial Opinion Feature Culture & Community Interviews
 Tamil Affairs
Tamil Guardian 24 October 2014
Sri Lanka warns of increased 'LTTE rump' activity after EU ruling
The Sri Lankan military spokesperson Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasooriya said they would be vigilant of "acts of [LTTE] rump groups" following the decision by the General Court of the European Union to annul the anti-terror measures against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) on procedural grounds earlier this month.

"The LTTE through its network of 'Sencholai' schools promote their doctrine of separatism and inculcate a negative image of the country, especially in the minds of the children of the Tamil expatriate community," he told journalists at a press conference on Thursday, reports Colombo Page.

"Although there are no more armed terrorists in the country authorities are always vigilant on the acts of rump groups," he added.


Tamil Guardian 24 October 2014
Body found in Nuwara Eliya plantation
The body of a 41 year old Tamil man was found floating in a pond in Meraya plantation, in Nuwara Eliya, this week.

The man, identified as father of two, Ramasamy Ramachandran, went missing after leaving his home one morning, reports Uthayan.

His body was recovered by Lindula police, and handed over to the Nuwara Eliya district hospital for post mortem.

The police are reportedly investigating the incident further.

Tamil Guardian 24 October 2014
Sri Lanka hires another American lobbying firm
Sri Lanka hired its eighth American public relations firm this year to reach out to US media, officials and policy makers.

Levick, an organisation subcontracted to the Liberty International Group, has been hired to speak on behalf of the Sri Lankan central bank.

“Levick’s mission is to utilize communications supported advocacy to tell Sri Lanka’s amazing story of recovery after a decades long civil war against a brutal terrorist organization, as well as to assist the Central Bank in communicating opportunities for trade and investment between our two nations,” president of Levick, Mark Irion, said in a statement to The Hill.

The contract which will last until July 2015 is worth $760,000.

The Sri Lankan government and central bank have signed contracts with a host of public relations firms in the past including the Majority Group, Patton Boggs, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, Qorvis Communications, Thompson Advisory Group and several others.
Tamil Guardian 23 October 2014
Army visits every Hindu household in Jaffna for Deepavali

The Sri Lankan army has visited every Hindu family in Jaffna to wish them for Deepavali.

Jaffna commander Maj Gen Udaya Perera ordered all brigades and battalions stationed on the peninsula to deliver greeting cards to the houses of each of the 157,500 Hindu families, according to a military website.

Tamil Guardian 23 October 2014
Catholic Church will reconsider papal visit if election is held in January

Sri Lanka’s Catholic Church said the planned visit of Pope Francis to the island will be reconsidered if the presidential election is going ahead in January 2015.

Spokesman Cyril Gamini told Ceylon Today that the government had not yet responded to their letter asking for confirmation of the election date and said that the External Affairs Ministry should seek confirmation of the visit from the Vatican if the election is in January.

"[N]othing has been decided as yet and if an election is to be held in January 2015 the Catholic Church will reconsider the Pontiff's decision to visit the country," Gamini said.

Presidential election ‘casts doubt’ on papal visit (22 October 2014)

Tamil Guardian 23 October 2014
Govt and opposition vie for Sinhala votes over EU Court ruling on LTTE
In an ongoing political spat, the Sri Lankan government and opposition party, UNP, sought to blame each other for the decision by the General Court of the European Union to annul the Council's anti-terror measures taken against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) on procedural grounds earlier this month.

Following the ruling, posters were displayed in Colombo with a picture of a tiger and the words, "Who is the opposition MP behind lifting the ban on the LTTE", written in Sinhala, in an apparent reference to the UNP leader Ranil Wickremasinghe who recently travelled to UK where he sought to meet with Tamil diaspora groups.


Tamil Guardian 23 October 2014
Presidential commission denies military interference

The presidential commission investigating complaints into those who disappeared during the conflict has denied criticism by the Centre for Policy Alternatives that members of the security forces interfered in public meetings where relatives of the missing gave evidence.

Gunadasa said military personnel who were outside the venue were on “routine patrol”, adding that there was “no interference on the part of the security forces” and that the commission was not inconvenienced at any time by the military.

Tamil Guardian 23 October 2014
Canadian Tamils condemn Ottawa attack
Updated 17:40 GMT

Tamils across Canada expressed shock and outrage at the attack on Canadian parliament on Wednesday, posting messages of condolence to the family and friends of the Canadian soldier killed.

Canadian Tamil Congress (CTC):

Canadian Tamil Youth Alliance (CTYA):

NDP Member of Parliament for Scarborough-Rouge River, Rathika Sitsabaiesan:


Tamil Guardian 23 October 2014
Tamil Nadu parties urge Modi not to form closer defence ties with SL
Political parties in Tamil Nadu urged Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi not to form close military ties with the Sri Lankan government on Wednesday, following meetings between the Sri Lankan defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his Indian counterpart.

Describing such a move as a "diplomatic blunder", the head of the National Committee of the Naam Tamilar Party (NTP), Ayyanathan, asked what how this would benefit India's security given Sri Lanka's close ties with China.

"Now, what is the point in saying that this is for our security. Are you sharing your southern security with the Sri Lankan Government and China? This is ridiculous, it is a diplomatic blunder," he told ANI.

"You [the Indian government] have decimated Tamils and you are going with Sri Lanka, but Sri Lanka is going with China. This is the mockery of southern security of the country," he said.


Tamil Guardian 23 October 2014
TNA leadership distances itself from NPC genocide resolution as case filed against councillors
The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) issued a statement on Wednesday, apparently distancing itself from a draft resolution tabled within the TNA led Northern Provincial Council (NPC) which calls on the international community to recognise the genocide committed against the Tamil people by the Sri Lankan state.

The draft resolution, tabled by the NPC councillor M. K. Shivajilingham, said that the NPC "wished to inform the international community of its strong belief that the Tamil people have been, and continue to be subjected to genocide by the Sri Lankan government and its forces" and "requests the international community and United Nations to create a mechanism to protect the Tamil people from the ongoing genocide of the Tamil people".

Whilst stating that "acts specified in article 2 of the Genocide Convention of 1948 have undeniably been perpetrated on the Tamil people by functionaries of the Sri Lankan state over several decades", the TNA leadership said it would be "improper and inappropriate for the Northern Provincial Council or any other political body to make pronouncements in the form of resolutions or otherwise on matters of evidence and law currently being considered by the OHCHR Investigation into Sri Lanka (OISL).


Tamil Guardian 22 October 2014
Travel restrictions on Northern Province to remain ‘indefinitely’ says military

The Sri Lankan military says the restrictions on foreigners travelling to the Northern Province will remain indefinitely.

Speaking to Ceylon Today, military spokesperson Ruwan Wanigasuriya said there was no specific reason, as to why the requirement for foreigners to obtain Ministry of Defence approval before travelling to the North was re-introduced, but that the decision was “based on careful study” of the situation in the region.

"We need to have a track of all foreigners, who go there, for security reasons," he said.

Wanigasuriya said that foreigners found without the necessary permit would be turned back at Omanthai, which used to serve as the main crossing point between Tamil-held and Sri Lankan-held territory during the ceasefire.


Tamil Guardian 22 October 2014
Presidential election ‘casts doubt’ on papal visit

Sri Lanka’s Catholic Church asked the government for clarification regarding the presidential election in January announced this week, as the election has cast doubt on the visit to Sri Lanka by Pope Francis, reports AFP.

The Church had earlier said it would be "inappropriate" for the Pope to visit a country at the time of a national election.

"We are yet to decide anything," church spokesman Cyril Gamini Fernando told AFP.

"There will be a meeting of the bishops to discuss this."


Tamil Guardian 21 October 2014
UNP blames government for EU ruling on LTTE
Sri Lanka's opposition party, the United National Party (UNP) blamed the government for the European Union's annulment of anti-terror measures against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) last week.

"When we come to power we will work to reinstate the ban and we strongly urge the government to do everything it can to ensure the Tamil Tigers remain proscribed as a terror organisation," UNP MP Eran Wickramaratne was quoted by the Global Post as saying.

Wickramaratne blamed the government's "politicised" foreign service, and lack of career diplomats.


Tamil Guardian 21 October 2014
Sri Lanka passes law banning sale of land to foreign citizens
The Sri Lankan parliament passed the law banning the sale of land to foreign citizens, on Monday night, reports Reuters.

The Land Bill, will mean that foreigners will only be able to lease land for up to 99 years.

The law will also prevent companies and firms that are over 50% foreign owned from buying land.

See more here.


Tamil Guardian 21 October 2014
Jaffna Press Club remembers Nimalarajan and Sachithananthan

The Jaffna Press Club held a memorial service over the weekend, remembering the lives of two Tamil journalists - Mylvaganam Nimalarajan and Mr Sachithananthan.

The event was held on the date marking the 14th death anniversary of Nimalarajan, who was a senior journalist having contributed to the BBC Tamil and Sinhala services, the Tamil daily Virakesari and Sinhala weekly Ravaya. The Committee to Protect Journalists stated he was gunned down in his home due to his coverage of the political violence before and during the 2000 parliamentary elections. Members of the government aligned paramilitary group the EPDP, are suspected of carrying out the killing.


Tamil Guardian 21 October 2014
Sri Lanka and Iran vow to continue improving bilateral ties
Sri Lanka welcomed Iran’s technical and engineering assistance and called for further cooperation between the two nations on Monday.

The two nations outlined plans to prioritise the expansion of bilateral ties in both of their future plans, during  a meeting between the Iranian deputy foreign minister for Asian pacific affairs, Ebrahim Rahimpour, and the Sri Lankan foreign minister G L Peiris, reports Fars News.
Tamil Guardian 21 October 2014
Mother of man killed by military prevented from leaving Sri Lanka

The mother of Suntharalingam Gajatheeban, also known as Theiveegan, who was killed by the Sri Lankan military in April, was prevented from leaving Sri Lanka on Tuesday, despite being in possession of a valid visa, the Daily Mirror reports.

Fifty-seven year old Rajithamalar was held at Bandaranaike International Airport, where she was due to take a flight to Canada, for which she has a 6-year visa.

Sourced told the paper that she may have been prevented from leaving the island due to ongoing investigations into the activities of her son.

Tamil Guardian 21 October 2014
EU defends annulment of measures against LTTE, as Sri Lanka decides to appeal decision

The European Union has defended the annulment of the measures in place against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in a statement released on Tuesday, saying the moves were of a legal nature and not political.

“[I]t is important to remember that it is a legal ruling of a court; it is not a political decision taken by the EU governments. The separation of the judicial system from the legislature is a key distinction in a healthy democracy,” the statement said.

The European Court of Justice last week annulled measures taken by the Council of the European Union against the LTTE, namely the designation of the LTTE as a terrorist organisation and the freezing of its funds.

“Furthermore, this legal ruling is clearly based on procedural grounds and it does not imply any assessment by the Court of the substantive issues of designating the LTTE or of freezing LTTE funds,” the statement further said.

 International Affairs
Tamil Guardian 24 October 2014
Rwandan parliament passes resolution calling for genocide denial charges against BBC documentary producers
Rwandan parliament passed a resolution calling on the government to ban a BBC documentary on Rwanda and charge the producers with genocide denial, on Friday.

The BBC has denied that any part of the programme constitutes to “a denial of the genocide against the Tutsis.”

The documentary, “Rwanda's Untold Story”, contained allegations that Kagame and his then RPF armed organisation had shot down the Hutu president Juvenal Habyarimana, sparking the genocide which killed some 800,000 people.

Rwanda's president, earlier this month accused the documentary of "further emboldened the génocidaires, all their supporters and those who collaborate with them."

A BBC spokesperson earlier said,

    “The BBC strongly refutes the suggestion that any part of the programme constitutes a ‘denial of the genocide against the Tutsi’. There are repeated references to the mass killings of Tutsis by Hutus in 1994 and that this constituted genocide. The programme also includes an interview with the Director of the Genocide Museum at Murambi, a Tutsi and genocide survivor, and a convicted Hutu genocidaire who spoke of his part in the killing of thousands of Tutsis.”

Rwandan president accuses BBC of 'genocide denial'
(15 October 2014)

BBC accused of giving voice to genocide deniers by Rwandan survivors groups
  (11 October 2014)
Tamil Guardian 23 October 2014
UN to investigate attacks on Gaza facilities
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has announced that a commission is to be set up that will investigate attacks on UN facilities in Gaza, during Israel's offensive this summer.

Speaking to the UN Security Council on Tuesday, Ban said the inquiry will investigate the attacks on the facilities, as well as reports that Hamas militants were storing weapons in the buildings.

Though no details of the inquiry were offered, Stephane Dujarric, the Secretary General’s spokesman said further details would be offered at a later official announcement.

UN-run schools were hit by shelling during the conflict, drawing international condemnation.

See our earlier posts:

US condemns UN school shelling as 'disgraceful', fighting rages on in Gaza (03 August 2014)

UN & US condemn shelling of UN school in Gaza (30 July 2014)

UN run school in Gaza hit by shelling (24 July 2014)
Tamil Guardian 23 October 2014
Blackwater guards found guilty of Iraqi murders
Four Blackwater Worldwide guards have been found guilty of the murder of 14 unarmed Iraqis in 2007 by a US federal jury in Washington this week.

The four were convicted on murder, manslaughter and weapons charges, with Ronald C. Machen Jr., the United States attorney in Washington, saying, “this verdict is a resounding affirmation of the commitment of the American people to the rule of law, even in times of war.”

“Seven years ago, these Blackwater contractors unleashed powerful sniper fire, machine guns and grenade launchers on innocent men, women and children,” he added. “Today, they were held accountable for that outrageous attack and its devastating consequences for so many Iraqi families.”

Blackwater, a US private security firm had around 1,000 contractors in Iraq, with many reported incidents of shootings. The most infamous of these was the 2007 murders, which saw more than four dozen Iraqi citizens fly to Washington to give evidence.

See more form the New York Times here and here.
Tamil Guardian 23 October 2014
Boko Haram reportedly abducts at least 25 girls
Islamist militant group Boko Haram has reportedly abducted at least 25 girls in an attack on villages in north-eastern Nigeria.

The latest report of the abduction comes after the Nigerian military announced a ceasefire with Boko Haram last week. The deal would reportedly have involved the release of more than 200 girls who were kidnapped in April as part of negotiations.

Meanwhile a bomb blast in the northern Bauchi state killed at least 5 people. No one has claimed responsibility for the blast.

See more from the BBC here.

Also see our earlier post:

Militants storm Nigerian villages after government ceasefire with Boko Haram (18 October 2014)
Tamil Guardian 23 October 2014
'Canada will never be intimidated' says PM after parliament attack
The Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, stressed that "Canada would never be intimidated", following an attack on parliament yesterday, which left a soldier dead.

A gunman, who has since been identified as a Muslim convert names Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, launched an attack on Wednesday morning, killing a soldier, Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, at the National Memorial in Ottawa. The gunman later died of gun shot injuries.

“Attacks on our security personnel and on our institutions of governance are by their very nature attacks on our country, on our values, on our society,” Harper said in a televised address on Wednesday night. 

“But let there be no misunderstanding. We will not be intimidated. Canada will never be intimidated. In fact this will lead us to strengthen our resolve.”

"This will lead us to strengthen our resolve and redouble our efforts and those of our national security agencies to take all necessary steps to identify and counter threats," he added. 


Tamil Guardian 22 October 2014
Canadian parliament in lockdown after shooting

The Canadian parliament is in lock down today after a gunman shot and killed a soldier at a war memorial in Ottawa, before running into the parliament building.

Gunfire has been exchanged between the Canadian police and the gunman, who has reportedly been shot dead inside the main parliament building.

Police are currently searching the area for more suspects with the situation described as “ongoing”.

Security has been tightened across the country following the incident.

See live coverage from the BBC here and the Telegraph here.


Tamil Guardian 22 October 2014
Syrian air force carries out ‘200 airstrikes in 36 hours’ says SOHR

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) stated that the Syrian government has ramped up the use of airstrikes against opposition forces, with over 200 bombing raids carried out within 36 hours.

Though there were several reported casualties, the organisation was unable to confirm an exact number. ‘Barrel bombs’ were amongst those dropped on targets in opposition held areas including Hama, Idlib and Aleppo.

The Syrian government meanwhile stated air raids had destroyed two of three fighter jets seized by Islamic State militant. The location of the third jet is still unknown.

The intensification of the bombing campaign comes as opposition groups accuse the regime of continuing to use chemical weapons.


Tamil Guardian 22 October 2014
Ukrainian army accused of using cluster bombs in Donetsk

Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report this week, accusing the Ukrainian military of using banned cluster munitions as they battle against pro-Russia separatists in Eastern Ukraine.

HRW said it had evidence of “widespread use of cluster munitions,” adding that, “while it was not possible to conclusively determine responsibility for many of the attacks, the evidence points to Ukrainian government forces’ responsibility for several cluster munition attacks on Donetsk”.

"It is shocking to see a weapon that most countries have banned used so extensively in eastern Ukraine," said Mark Hiznay, a senior arms researcher at HRW.

However, Ukraine’s "anti-terrorist operation" spokesman Vladyslav Seleznyov dismissed the report as “utter nonsense”, saying "we do not use banned weapons… Neither do we shell civilian neighbourhoods because this endangers lives."


Tamil Guardian 22 October 2014
Pakistani anti-government protesters end sit-in, pro opposition news channel shut down
Anti-government protests in Pakistan’s capital ended on Wednesday, with protesters vowing to continue their campaign calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.      

Tahir ul-Qadri, who led the protests with former cricket player turned politician, Imran Kahn, called an end to the mass sit-in protests.

“This sit-in has achieved its purpose, it has awakened the nation and played its role in the path of evolution," said Qadri.

The protesters staged a 65 day sit-in whilst facing several clashes with Pakistani police leaving three dead and hundreds injured.

The Pakistan Media Regulation Authority on Tuesday said that it would have to shut down a private news channel, ARY News Chennel, and ban one of its anchors from appearing on Pakistani national TV, reports the
Associated Press.


Tamil Guardian 22 October 2014
Former Pinochet aide charged over murder of political prisoners

A former Chilean army colonel Cristián Labbé has been arrested and charged with the murder of political prisoners held in a concentration camp in the 1970s, on Wednesday.

Labbé and 9 other military officials were charged over the death of 13 prisoners at a concentration camp in San Antonio.

Lawyer Rodrigo Lledo said "the (Interior Ministry's) human rights department asked for Cristian Labbé Galilea to be prosecuted for homicide, kidnapping, torture and unlawful association."

Labbé denies any wrong doing however.

“He never tortured or assassinated anyone," said one of his lawyers, Cristián Espejo. 

See more from the Guardian here, the BBC here and Reuters here.


Tamil Guardian 22 October 2014
Australian MP asks ICC to investigate treatment of asylum seekers

Independent Australian MP Andrew Wilkie has written to the International Criminal Court, asking for an investigation into the government’s treatment of asylum seekers.

Wilkie said he asked the court to look at policies which were causing "great suffering", citing forcible deportations, compulsory detention and detention camp conditions.

"The effect of the (asylum) policy is that men, women and children are being forcibly relocated and then subjected to arbitrary imprisonment through mandatory and sometimes indefinite detention," Wilkie said in the letter.

"The conditions they are forced to endure in detention are causing great suffering as well as serious bodily and mental injury."

“The Abbott Government’s conduct in relation to asylum seekers also contravenes the Refugee Convention, Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.


Tamil Guardian 22 October 2014
Islamic State militants committing genocide says UN official after visiting Yazidi displacement camp
Islamic State militants are most likely committing genocide against the Yazidis in Iraq said a senior UN assistant secretary general for human rights on Tuesday.

“The evidence strongly indicates an attempt to commit genocide,” said Ivan Simonovic after meeting at least 70 Yazidis in Baghdad and in displaced persons camps in the Kurdish towns of Erbil and Dohuk.

The secretary general heard further stories of families who had been killed because they refused to convert to Islam, reports the
New York Times.

Tamil Guardian 21 October 2014
Myanmar confirms 2015 elections will be held in presence of international observers
Myanmar’s government announced that the 2015 general elections will be held as scheduled, rejecting rumours that the election was to be postponed, the Associated Press reports.

The chairman of the Myanmar Union Election Commission, on Tuesday, said that international and local observers would be invited to witness the election, to be held in late October 2015.

Myanmar's 2010 election was criticised for being stage managed to ensure that the military-backed government retained power.

Tamil Guardian 21 October 2014
Islamic State militants release video of captured US aid drops
Islamic State militants claimed that they had captured US aid drops that were meant to arm Kurdish rebels, in a video released on Tuesday.

The Pentagon press secretary, commenting on reports that US air drops fell in to the hands of Islamic State militants, said that analysts were working to determine what happened, the Washington Post reports.

“The Defense Department is aware that one bundle didn’t make it into the right hands, and is not sure whether the one that appears in the video is the same one CENTCOM already reported destroying,” John Kirby is quoted as saying.

US air-drops arms to Kurdish forces fighting IS (20 October 2014)

Tamil Guardian 20 October 2014
Turkey to allow Kurds to join battle for Kobane
Turkey has announced that it will facilitate Iraqi Kurdish fighters cross the border into Syria, to battle against Islamic State (IS) militants in Kobane.

Turkish foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, said in a press conference that his government was “helping the Peshmerga cross over to Kobane,” adding that “consultations are going on.”

"Turkey has no wish to see Kobane fall," said Cavusoglu.


Tamil Guardian 20 October 2014
22 killed in market attack in Xinjiang
At least 22 people have been killed and dozens more injured after attackers armed with knives and explosives, attacked police officers and merchants at a market in Xinjiang, western China.

All 4 attackers were shot dead by police officers, reports Radio Free Asia. Chinese state media has yet to report on the incident, though recently Xinjiang has seen an increase in attacks following increasing discontent amongst the region's mainly Muslim Uighurs. Han Chinese migrants and police officers seem to have been the target of Sunday's attack.

At least 244 people have been killed in a series of attacks since unrest kicked off in the region in May, following a crackdown by the Chinese government. More than 1,000 ethnic Uighur youth have reportedly been jailed since May.

Tamil Guardian 20 October 2014
Both sides in eastern-Ukraine conflict committing atrocities says Amnesty International
Both sides in the eastern Ukraine conflict have committed atrocities though not on the scale reported by Russia, said Amnesty International in a statement on Monday.

“There is no doubt that summary killings and atrocities are being committed by both-pro-Russian separatists and pro-Kyiv forces in Easter Ukraine, but is difficult to get an accurate sense of the scale of these abuses. It is likely that many have not yet been exposed and that others have been deliberately misrecorded," said the Europe and Central Asia Director at Amnesty International, John Dalhusein.

It is also clear that some of the more shocking cases that have been reported, particularly by Russian media, have been hugely exaggerated,” Dalhusein added. 

Tamil Guardian 20 October 2014
Myanmar jails former minister and journalists
A series of separate trials that concluded in Burma this week, resulting in the jailing of a former minister, a group of journalists and 9 farmers, have faced criticism from human rights organisations.

The three trials saw the defendants found guilty over charges of sedition, territorial disputes and “state defamation”.

Dave Mathieson, senior researcher in the Asia division of Human Rights Watch said,
“This is reminiscent of some of the darkest days of military rule... The legal system in this country is still used to intimidate critics of the government.”
See more from the Financial Times here.


Renewing resolve
Significance of Aluthgama
'Why Sri Lanka's detention of Balenderan Jayakumari is so sinister' - Callum Macrae
‘Legal Avenues to Prosecute a US Citizen for War Crimes—The Case of Gotabaya Rajapaksa’
Review: 'This Land Belongs to the Army'
UK Ministers and MPs rally behind Tamil calls for justice
Remembering Thileepan
#GetThePicture campaign maps Sri Lankan state massacres of Tamils
  Culture & Community
UK Tamil students hold workshop on university application process for Year 13s
Thileepan remembered 27 years on
Kilithattu tournament sees Eelam Vaanavil hold on to trophy

Print Editions


Contact Tamil Guardian