Saturday, 30 April 2016
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Tamil Guardian 30 April 2016
Sampanthan calls for referendum on power sharing in North-East

Tamil National Alliance leader R Sampanthan challenged the Sri Lanka state to hold a referendum in the North-East to decide on whether the Tamil people wanted a power sharing mechanism on the island.

Speaking to the Daily Mirror in a wide ranging interview, the TNA leader was questioned on whether proposals for federalism had the backing of the Tamil people of the North-East.

“People want genuine power sharing,” said Mr Sampanthan. “Have a referendum in the North and the East and decide.”


Tamil Guardian 30 April 2016
Vavuniya citizens committee calls for May 18 remembrance event at Mullivaikkal
The Vavuniya Citizens Committee, together with the Mullaitivu Citizens Committee and the Forum for Searching, Handed, Kidnapped and Forcibly Disappeared Relatives - Tamil Homeland), called for a public remembrance event on May 18th to mark the genocide of the Tamil people in 2009.

Reiterating the need for justice, the three groups urged people to come to Mullivaikkal to make their demand for justice heard.


Tamil Guardian 30 April 2016
Federal system won't divide country says Wigneswaran
The chief minister of the Northern Province on Friday rejected concerns that the Northern Provincial Council (NPC) was trying to divide the country by calling a federal system.

Speaking to journalists in Sinhala, Mr Wigneswaran said such a system would unite the country.

“The country is not divided by a Federal system as claimed by some people. Politicians have reiterated for years that a federal system leads to division of the country and the people have been forced to believe that. This system is being practised in several countries such as India, America, Canada and Switzerland,” he was quoted by the Daily Mirror as saying.


Tamil Guardian 30 April 2016
551 acres earmarked for land grabs in Kilinochchi says TNA MP
Attempts are being made to acquire 551 acres of private land in Kilinochchi from the Tamil people, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP, S Sritharan said this week.

Writing a letter to the TNA leader, R Sampanthan and to the president, Maithripala Sirisena, Mr Sritharan called for the land grabs to be halted.

Private land is also be acquired for the use of the army in six places in Jaffna, as well as 42 places having been earmarked for the use of the navy.

Highlighting the strong opposition from the Tamil land owners and politicians, Mr Sritharan also pointed out the land of 817 families in Kilinochchi is currently under the control of the army.
Tamil Guardian 30 April 2016
France says time to start 'solid relationship' between navy

Officials from the French navy said that it was time to start a "solid" partnership with Sri Lanka, the Daily Mirror reported.

“This is a good time to start the partnership between our two nations,” Captain Laurent Machard De Gramont, the Commanding Officer of the French Naval Ship ‘Aconit’, which arrived in Colombo on Friday, said. 

“After six years, this is the first visit by a French ship to Sri Lanka and more visits are to follow,” he further said.

The navy delegation will take part in several programmes organised by the Sri Lanka Navy to strengthen mutual relations during their stay in Sri Lanka, until May 5.

Tamil Guardian 30 April 2016
'Global champion of human rights'? Controversy over Power comment

Remarks made by US Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Samantha Power, calling Sri Lanka a "global champion for human rights" have come under fire.

Writing in The Diplomat, commentator Taylor Dibbert said the Obama administration's rhetoric "continues to be wildly out of step with reality".

"Sri Lanka watchers will notice that instead of the United States clearly calling for accountability for wartime abuses (a hugely controversial issue in post-war Sri Lanka), the language seems to have shifted to 'accountable democracy.' This is something to watch going forward. Is Washington still genuinely pushing for wartime accountability?" he wrote.

Highlighting the recent increase in abductions, Mr Dibbert further said,

"Global champion of human rights and accountability? That’s quite an assertion.

Tamil Guardian 29 April 2016
Murdered journalist Sivaram remembered in Jaffna

A memorial event was held in Jaffna Friday to mark the 11th anniversary of the journalist Dharmeratnam Sivaram’s murder.

A memorial pillar for slain journalists and media workers was also unveiled. Many local journalists and politicians attended the event.


Tamil Guardian 29 April 2016
Fitch Ratings warns Sri Lanka of declining remittances due to faltering oil market
Sri Lanka faces a high risk of diminishing remittances from migrant workers in the Middle Eastern economies due to the crashing oil prices, warns Fitch Ratings on Friday.

In a brief on South Asia, Fitch Ratings said that workers remittance remains a vital source of hard currency for many Asian emerging economies, adding,

“Remittance inflows in the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Vietnam are particularly strong relative to the size of their economies. The growth of remittance inflows is slowing in some of these countries, but absolute amount remains large and significant.”

Countries whose external accounts depend on remittance inflows will be vulnerable to disruptions in economies of the region.

“In this light, Fitch believes Sri Lanka is especially vulnerable to such disruptions, while Pakistan and Bangladesh are also relatively exposed, “ said the Ratings agency.

The agency caveated their forecast adding that though a lower demand of foreign workers in the middle East remains significant, it is yet to materialise.
Tamil Guardian 29 April 2016
US praises Sri Lanka as ‘global champion of human rights’

US Ambassador Samantha Power heaped praise on Sri Lanka as a “as a global champion of human rights and democratic accountability,” in a speech delivered in Washington on Thursday.

Speaking at the signing of the United States-Sri Lanka Trade and Investment Framework Agreement Council, Ms Power said Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena’s administration “has made extraordinary progress” towards seeking “a durable peace, an accountable democracy, a new relationship with the outside world, and expanded opportunities for all”.

The ambassador also reiterated the “importance President Obama, himself, places on the United States’ bilateral relationship with Sri Lanka”.

“More specifically, our commitment – and his commitment – to Sri Lanka’s continued progress, and our determination to support President Sirisena in his efforts to ensure that this progress delivers socio-economic benefits for the people of Sri Lanka,” she added.

“Sri Lanka has, since January 2015, emerged as a global champion of human rights and democratic accountability,” the ambassador stated.


Tamil Guardian 29 April 2016
Tamil protestors beat back Sri Lankan military surveyors

Tamil protestors in Puthukkudiyiruppu managed to deter Sri Lankan military surveyors from acquiring a tranche of privately owned land on Wednesday.


Tamil Guardian 29 April 2016
Former LTTE commanders arrested over suicide vest in Jaffna says Sri Lanka defence sec

Sri Lanka's defence secretary, Karunasena Hettiarachchi said the TID's arrest of former LTTE commanders is in relation to the reported finding of a suicide vest and unexploded explosives in Jaffna.

In an interview with the BBC, Mr Hettiarachchi said he could not make any comment until the investigation was over.

"After the investigations over and a reports are submitted only we can make a statement," he was quoted by Colombo Page as saying.

Denying there was any threat to national security, he added, "we currently do not have such a threat but if there is such a situation we will be vigilant."


Tamil Guardian 29 April 2016
$1.5 billion IMF bailout agreed for Sri Lanka
An agreement was reached on Friday between Sri Lanka and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a $1.5 billion bailout in order to rectify its finances and evert a balance of payments crisis.

"The Sri Lankan authorities and the IMF have reached a staff-level agreement on a 36-month Extended Fund Facility (EFF)," the IMF mission chief for Sri Lanka, Todd Schneider, said in a statement.

The three-year loan is the second bailout from the IMF since the end of the armed conflict in 2009, and will be depend on Sri Lanka implementing financial reforms including the reduction of the deficit.


Tamil Guardian 29 April 2016
Trinco police detain three believed to have been abducted

Three people believed to have been abducted in Vadamaradchi are being detained by anti-drugs police in Trincomalee.

Mr Jeffrin, George Rasanayagam and V. Michael were believed to have been abducted as they were seized in vans by unidentified individuals and their families uninformed.

The three men were reported missing by their families to Palai and Kilinochchi police and the case reported to the Human Rights Commission.

The inquiries by the Commission led to the discovery that the three men had been arrested by a special drugs force from Trincomalee, despite no record of their arrests being given to local police.

Action is reportedly being taken by Trinco police to bring the men before a court on drug-related charges.

Tamil Guardian 29 April 2016
Returning deportee arrested in Sri Lanka for threatening president on Facebook
Sri Lanka's CID officers arrested a man on Thursday for allegedly threatening the president, Maithripala Sirisena on the social media site, Facebook, reported the Daily Mirror.

The man had been deported from Malaysia as he had been staying there without an adequate visa. 

The man was arrested at Bandaranaike International airport and brought before Colombo's chief magistrate court. He will be remanded in custody till May 6th.
Tamil Guardian 28 April 2016
Buddhist monks oversee vihara construction in Mullaitivu


Sinhala Buddhist monks have been overseeing the construction of a Buddhist vihara in the Tamil North-East, despite an order from the Mullaitivu District Secretariat to halt further proceedings.

The construction, under way in Kokkilai, is reportedly taking place with assistance from the Sri Lankan army, the navy and the police.

TamilNet published footage of one Buddhist monk, identified as Sri Thissapura Gunarathna, assisting in construction work earlier this week.


Tamil Guardian 28 April 2016
Sri Lankan military accompanies Buddhist monks to Tamil Hindu temple

A Sri Lankan military commander accompanied a group of Sinhala Buddhist monks as they attended a Hindu ceremony at a Tamil temple in Jaffna last week.

Commander of the Sri Lankan Security Forces in Jaffna Major General Mahesh Senanayake alongside troops of the 51 Division accompanied a group of Buddhist monks to the Ganesh Temple in Urumpirai, Jaffna on Friday.


Tamil Guardian 28 April 2016
Buddhist monks and Sinhala party leaders protest against Sampanthan
Photograph Tamilwin

The leader of seven Sri Lankan parties, including Buddhist monks protested against the Tamil National Alliance's leader, R Sampanthan, demanding he resign from the position of opposition leader.

The protest, which was held outside the official residence of the opposition leader, condemned the alleged illegal entrance of Mr Sampanthan into an army camp.


Tamil Guardian 28 April 2016
ITAK youth leader released on bail


The leader of ITAK's youth wing, Subramaniyam Sivakaran, has been released on bail after being arrested by the Sri Lankan government’s Terrorism Investigation Department (TID).

Mr Sivakaran was released from custody on Thursday morning after putting up 1 lakh rupees for bail alongside 2 sureties. As part of his bail conditions Mr Sivakaran has been banned from leaving the country and must report back to authorities.

Sri Lankan police confirmed that the arrest was made as part of an investigation into the discovery of a cache of explosives, including an apparent suicide bomber vest, late last month. Mr Sivakaran is being accused of being involved with other former LTTE cadres who have also been arrested around the incident.


 International Affairs
Tamil Guardian 30 April 2016
Attack on MSF hospital in Kunduz not war crime - Pentagon

The Pentagon says the US air strike which hit a hospital run by Medecins sans Frontieres and killed 42 people was not a war crime.

General Joseph Votel said that the "tragic strike" was due to human and technical error and confirmed that disciplinary charges are being brought against US personnel.

US forces thought the hospital building had been seized by the Taliban however as the mistaken strike was "unintentional", no war crime had been committed.

"The investigation found that the incident resulted from a combination of human errors, process errors and equipment failures and that none of the personnel knew they were striking a hospital," he said.

Tamil Guardian 28 April 2016
'Catastrophic deterioration' in Aleppo says UN
The United Nations on Thursday warned of what it called the "catastrophic deterioration" in the Syrian rebel held city of Aleppo after air strikes by the government destroyed another hospital, killing several doctors.

"I could not in any way express how high the stakes are for the next hours and days," the chair of the UN humanitarian task force, Jan Egeland said.

The UN envoy Staffan de Mistura meanwhile urged Washington and Moscow to help revitalise the ceasefire that was now "barely alive".

The hospital targetted in the air strike was supported by Medecins San Frontieres.

At least three doctors, including one of the last paediatricians, was killed in the strike, said MSF.

Condemning the air strike on the hospital as "reprehensible", the US State Department's spokesperson, John Kirby, said, "once again we call on the regime to cease these absolutely senseless attacks, which are of course violations of the cessation of hostilities."

See here,
here and here.

Tamil Guardian 27 April 2016
Detention centre illegal says Papua New Guinea's supreme court
Australia's off shore detention centre on Manus Island is illegal, ruled Papua New Guinea's Supreme Court on Tuesday, stating the detention on the island was "contrary to their constitutional right of personal liberty".

Responding to the court's ruling, the Papua New Guinea prime minister ordered the camp to close.

"Respecting this ruling, Papua New Guinea will immediately ask the Australian government to make alternative arrangements for the asylum-seekers currently held at the Regional Processing Centre," the prime minister, Peter O'Neill was quoted by AFP as saying on Wednesday.


Tamil Guardian 26 April 2016
North Korean FM subjected to travel restrictions while in New York

The US placed travel restrictions on North Korea's foreign minister while he was in New York for the meetings at the UN, according to the Department of State.

Ri Su-Yong was only able to travel between his hotel, the UN, the North Korean mission and the airport, according to spokesperson John Kirby.

The move came after North Korea launched missile tests over the weekend.

See more here.

Tamil Guardian 26 April 2016
Bangladeshi LGBTI editor killed

A US embassy worker, who was also the editor of Bangladesh's only LGBTI magazine was hacked to death on Monday in Dhaka.

A statement from the U.S. Embassy said Xulhaz Mannan was a "dear friend."

"We abhor this senseless act of violence and urge the Government of Bangladesh in the strongest terms to apprehend the criminals behind these murders," Marcia Stephens Bloom Bernicat, the U.S. ambassador to Bangladesh, said in the statement.

Mr Mannan and a friend were killed when five or six young men posing as couriers arrived at Mannan's building under the guise of delivering a package and hacked them to death with machetes.

US Secretary of State John Kerry also condemned the "barbaric murder".

"We offer our full support to the government of Bangladesh as they investigate these murders and bring the perpetrators to justice. We remain committed to the principles that were so important to Xulhaz, and we promise to support all those who work on behalf of tolerance and human rights in Bangladesh and around the world," Secretary Kerry said.

Tamil Guardian 25 April 2016
ICC to investigate Burundi violence
The International Criminal Court (ICC) will investigate the violence that has taken place in Burundi over the past year, killing over 400 people.

Announcing the investigation, the ICC's chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda said the preliminary examination had found reports of rape, torture, disappearances and killings.

"All these acts appear to fall within the jurisdiction of the ICC," Ms Bensouda was quoted by Reuters as saying.

"At least 3,400 people have been arrested and over 230,000 Burundians forced to seek refuge in neighboring countries."


Tamil Guardian 25 April 2016
Obama announces increased special forces in Syria
The US president Barack Obama on Monday announced there would be upto 250 more special forces deployed in Syria.

The increase is intended to help militia fighters gain territory from Islamic State.

"A small number of special operation forces are already on the ground in Syria and their expertise have been critical as local forces have driven ISIL out of key areas,"  Mr Obama said whilst speaking in Germany.

"Given their success I have approved the deployment of upto 250 additional US personnel in Syria, including special forces to keep up this momentum."

"They're not going to be leading the fight on the ground, but they will be essential in providing the training and assisting local forces as they continue to drive ISIL back."
Tamil Guardian 22 April 2016
US president intervenes in UK EU referendum debate
US President warned that Britain could be placed to the back of the trade queue, if it votes to leave the European Union in it’s in out referendum.

Speaking at the start of a three day visit to the UK, he said,

“Let me be clear: ultimately this is something the British voters have to decide for themselves.”

"As part of our special relationship, part of being friends is to be honest and to let you know what I think, and speaking honestly, the outcome of that decision is a matter of deep interest to the US, because it affects our prosperity as well."

“The UK is at its best when it's helping to lead a strong European Union. It leverages UK power to be part of the EU. I don't think the EU moderates British influence in the world, it magnifies it. America wants Britain's influence to grow, including within Europe."
Tamil Guardian 22 April 2016
UK MPs declare Islamic State is committing genocide
British MPs on Wednesday unanimously declared that Islamic State is committing a genocide against the Yazidi and Christian people in Syria and Iraq, during a vote at the House of Commons.

The motion, which was passed by 278 votes to zero, also called on the British government to urge the UN Security Council to place the issue before the International Criminal Court (ICC).

"It is about doing justice and about seeing justice being done," said MP Fiona Bruce, who tabled the motion.
Tamil Guardian 20 April 2016
ICC officially opens permanent HQ in The Hague
The International Criminal Court (ICC) on Tuesday opened its official headquarters in The Hague, Netherlands.

The event was attended by politicians, diplomats and lawyers from around the world, as well as the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon.

Writing in Ahram Online, the ICC's president, Judge Silvia Fernandez, said "the message of today’s ceremony is clear: the International Criminal Court is here to stay."

"The ICC’s mandate is relevant everywhere. Where massive atrocities have occurred, international justice helps ensure that such crimes are addressed, that the perpetrators are held responsible and that victims receive justice."


Tamil Guardian 20 April 2016
South Sudan peace deal threatened say monitors
Monitors of South Sudan's peace deal said it was at risk of collapse this week after Riek Machar failed to return to the capital.

Mr Machar was due to take up post of vice-president within a unity government as part of the deal. His team have said he was delayed by logistical issues.

"The agreement is at risk. Having come so close to the formation of the transitional government of national unity, all parties must ensure that the spirit of reconciliation, compromise and dialogue embodied by the agreement should be protected," said Festus Mogae, chairman of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC).

The US expressed disappointment at what it described as his "wilful decision" not to follow through on the agreed delay.


Tamil Guardian 18 April 2016
US sends troops to Iraq, pledges $415 million aid to Kurdish Peshmerga
The United States will send more troops to Iraq and will position them closer to the frontlines of battle against Islamic State militants, reports Reuters.

US defence officials said on Monday that they will deploy a further 200 troops as advisers for Iraqi troops as they advance towards Mosul, and provide up to $415 million to Kurdish Peshmerga military units.

The US also authorised Apache attack helicopters to help the advance.

The US Defense Secretary Ash Carter, said,

“This will put Americans closer to the action. Their whole purpose is to be able to help those forces respond in a more agile way.”

The US Lieutenant General Sean MacFarland added that the Pentagon would provide up to $415 million to Kurdish militants, stating,

“Right now the Peshmerga are not getting enough calories to keep them in the field.”

The Peshmerga, known for their devout commitment to the Kurdish nationalist cause and regarded as well-trained, well-armed and capable, are the Iraqi Kurdish military force of the Kurdish struggle for self-determination. The term Peshmerga translates to ‘those who follow death.’

Kurdish leader discusses self-determination and arms deliveries during White House visit (11 May 2015)



Tamil Guardian 18 April 2016
UK defence firm hired former child soldiers as mercenaries in Iraq

A former senior director at a British firm said that it employed mercenaries from Sierra Leanne to work in Iraq due as they were cheaper than Europeans, reports the Guardian.

The Aegis Defence Services, between 2005 and 2015 recruited from countries such as Sierra Leone, “where there’s high unemployment and a decent workforce” to reduce costs for the US presence in Iraq.

The defence company, which is chaired by conservative MP Sir Nicholas Soames, had a series of contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars to provide guards to protect US military base sin Iraq from 2004.

A new documentary, called ‘The Child New Job’ to be broadcast in Denmark alleges that 2,500 Sierra Leonean personnel were recruited to work in Iraq, many of which were child soldiers.

Commenting on his film, the director Mads Ellesøe, said,

“When war gets outsourced, then the companies tries to find the cheapest soldiers globally. Turns out that that is former child soldiers from Sierra Leone. I think it is important that we in the west are aware of the consequences of the privatisation of war,”

Tamil Guardian 16 April 2016
Former Rwandan politician jailed for life for hate speech

Former Rwandan politician Leon Mugesera, who was extradited from Canada in 2012, has been jailed for life over his role in the 2004 genocide.

The former official with the then-ruling Hutu party described Tutsis as "cockroaches" and called for their extermination, during a speech in 1992.

Mr Mugesera worked as a lecturer in Quebec province and lost a 12-year legal battle to avoid extradition from Canada.

Over 800,000 Tutsis were killed in the genocide by Hutu militias.

Tamil Guardian 15 April 2016
OIC calls on India to support Kashmiri right to self-determination

 The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation reaffirmed its support to the peoples of Palestine and Jammu and Kashmir for the realisation of their right to self-determination.

In a joint communique issued on Friday, the OIC called on India to implement the UN resolutions on Kashmir, adding that the disposition of the State of Jammu and Kashmir must be made in accordance of the United Nations Security Council resolutions and aspirations of the Kashmiri people.

 See more here.

Tamil Guardian 15 April 2016
Egyptians protest over handing over of islands to Saudi Arabia
Egyptian security forces began to fire tear gas at protesters on Friday in what was the biggest demonstrations since the uprising to oust Mubarak from his presidency.

The protests were triggered by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s decision to transfer two Egyptian islands to Saudi Arabia.

The US government, in a statement released Friday, said it will continue to watch the situation in Egypt.

Thousands of Egyptians protested in Tahir Square chanting slogans from the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings, reports Reuters.

Tamil Guardian 14 April 2016
Iraqi Kurds launch Kurdistan web domain

Iraqi Kurds have launched their own .krd domain name for an independent cyber region for Kurdistan, reports Reuters.

The .krd domain name was granted in 2013 by the US based non-profit organisation which regulates the domains, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

"Those who imprisoned us within these geographical boundaries do not have the same leverage in cyberspace. In the internet we choose our own borders," the individual responsible for securing international recognition of the .krd domain, Hiwa Afandi told Reuters.

See more here.

Tamil Guardian 14 April 2016
France to extradite Bosnian war crimes suspect

A Bosnian Serb suspeced of carrying out crimes against humanity is to be extradited to Sarajevo to face charges after a court in France ruled in favour of hte extradition.

The man, Radomir Susjnar, was arrested in Paris in April 2014. He was a member of a Bosnian Serb paramilitary group that was responsible for the murder of 59 Bosnian Muslims in 1992 in Visegrad and has been accused of incarcerating the victims inside a house before setting it alight.

Although prosecutors argued that he could only be extradited under common law principles, as crimes against humanity were not, at the time occurred, punishable offences, the lawyer for Bosnia-Herzegovina argued that such an argument would "goes against European law and international law."

"Both very clearly state the non-retroactivity principle does not apply to crimes against humanity, which have always been crimes under international law, and certainly since 1945.”

See more here.

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