Wednesday, 27 May 2015
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Tamil Guardian 27 May 2015
Sri Lankan minister warns against misusing media freedom
Sri Lanka’s finance minister warned journalists on the island from abusing the apparent environment of media freedom that he claimed was in place under the current government.

Daily Mirror said Ravi Karunanayake stated stories should not be written to fulfil “certain agendas” and quoted the minister as saying, “attacking us through the media is fine but they should not be used to harm the economy of the country". "Recently, there were several misleading articles published by media against the finance ministry," he added. 

The minister’s comments came at an event in Colombo hosted by the finance ministry and mass media and the information ministry, launching a programme to provide motorcycles and houses to journalists at subsidised prices.

[more]

Tamil Guardian 27 May 2015
Petition handed to Sri Lankan president demands immediate release of Jaffna students

The chief minister of the Northern Province, members of parliament, school students and teachers jointly presented a petition to Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, calling for the immediate release of students who were arrested in Jaffna earlier this month.

The petition, delivered to Mr Sirisena as he visited the Jaffna Vembadi women’s higher secondary school, contained the names of students arrested by Sri Lankan police for allegedly participating in a protest against the rape and murder of a Tamil schoolgirl.

Mr Sirisena told the audience that he “will take actions to investigate this matter soon” adding that those who were proven to be innocent would be released.

[more]

Tamil Guardian 27 May 2015
Unidentified persons shoot dead social service worker in Batticaloa
A group of unidentified persons on motorcycles shot and killed a social service worker in Batticaloa, reports the Uthayan.

Sachithanantham Mathidevan, a 46 year old worker at the Navithanveli Regional Secretariat Office was shot inside his house by the unidentified group. He died on the way to Kaluvanchikudi Hospital, where his body is currently being held.

The police are reportedly investigating the incident.
Tamil Guardian 26 May 2015
Family of Vithiya face ongoing harrassment

The family of murdered schoolgirl S Vithiya have said that they are experiencing ongoing harassment and have requested to be relocated.

Vithiya’s mother and brother told Sri Lankan president Maithripala Sirisena during his visit that they feared for their safety and wished to be moved.

Mr Sirisena told the family that they would receive aid from the President’s fund and that he would discuss the issue of the family’s security with Northern Province chief minister C V Wigneswaran.

See also: Sirisena visits Jaffna after protests over school girl rape

Tamil Guardian 26 May 2015
Wigneswaran tells Sri Lankan president North's needs are greatest
The chief minister of the northern province, C V Wigneswaran told the Sri Lankan president on Tuesday that the north had much greater needs than the rest of the island and therefore much more financial resources should be allocated to it compared to other provinces.

Mr Wigneswaran asked the president, Maithripala Sirisena, this whilst he visited Jaffna on Tuesday following sustained protests over the rape and murder of school girl in Pungudutivu.

The development needs of the north were three to four times greater, Mr Wigneswaran added.


[more]

Tamil Guardian 26 May 2015
Sri Lankan army teaches Tamil women about ‘personal hygiene’

The Sri Lankan military hosted an event earlier this month to “educate” the women of Kilinochchi about personal hygiene, reports the Sri Lankan army.

Some 200 women were “educated on ‘Personal Hygiene’” earlier this month, according to the Sri Lankan army website.

The event, organised by the Security Force Headquarters - Kilinochchi (SFHQ-KLN) saw Brigadier M P Wijesundara, the Deputy General Officer of the 57 Division as the chief guest.

Other participants included the Commanding Officer, 6 (V) SLAWC, Civil Affairs Officer and other ranking soldiers within the military.

Tamil Guardian 26 May 2015
Sirisena visits Jaffna after protests over school girl rape
2nd lead
Photograph Tamil Guardian


The Sri Lankan president, Maithripala Sirisena visted Jaffna on Monday following last week's protests over the rape and murder of a school girl in Pungudutivu.


[more]

Tamil Guardian 26 May 2015
Bodu Bala Sena chief arrested in Sri Lanka
The head of Buddhist nationalist organisation Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) has been arrested in Sri Lanka, reports the Daily Mirror.

BBS chief secretary Galagodaatte Gnanasara Thera had an arrest warrant issued for participating in a protest outside the bribery commission, which is currently investigating financial crimes committed by the previous government.

The protest, organised on the day former defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa appeared before the commission, was led by the BBS. Several people, including parliamentarians, were arrested for their participation.

The head of BBS was “was out of the country during the previous weeks and returned only yesterday,” said the organisation’s chief executive officer Dilantha Vithanage.

He was reportedly arrested at the Cinnamon Garden police station, where he had arrived to deliver a statement.
Tamil Guardian 26 May 2015
India bans film on murdered Tamil journalist
India’s Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has banned a film about murdered Tamil journalist Isaipriya, on grounds that it may damage relations with Sri Lanka, reports the Hindu.

Though a formal notice is yet to be issued, actor S V Shekar, the Regional Chairman of CBFC, said “certification of a movie cannot be given if it could strain friendly relations with a neighbouring country”.

The decision was protested against by the film’s director Ganeshan, who said, “What if Sri Lanka is a friendly State? Are we not allowed to criticise even when its armed forces have committed blatant human rights abuses? Even the Tamil Nadu government has passed a unanimous resolution in the Assembly not to consider Sri Lanka as a friendly nation.”

The Sri Lankan government had claimed the popular Tamil reporter and actress, who they had labelled a "terrorist", was killed in battle. However, video footage and pictures obtained in 2013, shot from a Sri Lankan soldier's mobile phone, show Isaipriya being dragged up from a ditch, half naked and being led away.

Photos of her dead body, bearing visible signs of torture and sexual abuse, were unearthed in 2010, with several Sri Lankan soldiers can be clearly identified, looking directly into the camera.
Tamil Guardian 25 May 2015
Unacceptable presence of war criminal soldiers in North-East - CV Wigneswaran

The chief minister of the Northern Province, C V Wigneswaran has criticised the continued militarisation of the North-East by forces that he describes as “threatening” and perpetrators of war crimes.

“In order for normality to return to our daily lives, the military must withdraw from our lands,” the chief minister said, speaking at the 150 year anniversary of Inuvil Hindu College.

“Saying we are all brothers and sisters and getting on stage and calling for goodwill and amiable relations between us while continuing to stations soldiers that committed war crimes to occupy our lands is not acceptable in any way,” he said.


[more]

Tamil Guardian 25 May 2015
South African delegation meets Tamil diaspora organisations to discuss issues of settling Sri Lanka's ethnic conflict
A South African delegation, headed by the Deputy Minister of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) Nomaindiya C Mfeketo, held an official consultation with Tamil diaspora organisations with regards to Tamil affairs in Sri Lanka and work towards bringing a sense of normalcy to the North-East of the island.

A series of discussions were held on Monday at the South African embassy in London, with representatives from Tamil diaspora organisations including, the South African Solidarity Group for Peace and Justice in Sri Lanka (SGPJ), British Tamil Forum (BTF), United States Tamil Political Action Campaign (USTPAC), Global Tamil Forum (GTF), International Council of Eelam Tamils (ICET), National Council of Canadian Tamils (NCCT), Canadian Tamil Congress (CTC) and Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE).

A source from the meeting said that some of the discussions were centered around actions needed to produce a conducive environment in the North-East to foster a future process to end the ethnic conflict on the island.

The South African delegation consisted of the Deputy Director General for Asia & Middle East Dr Anil Sooklal, Special Advisor to Deputy President Ms Nokukhanya Jele, Deputy Director for South Asia Mr Tielman Furter and the South African High Commissioner to the UK Mr Obed Mlaba.

Speaking to the Tamil Guardian, the SGPJ General Secretary, Pregasen Padayachee said,

“We outlined the importance of bringing about a sense of normalcy to the Tamil North-East before any actual negotiation process is put in place with the Sri Lankan government to solve the ethnic conflict.”

The Deputy Minister for International Relations Nomaindiya C Mfekto met with the SGPJ earlier this month in South Africa.

The South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) in a statement released on Monday said,

"One of the cornerstones of the South African Initiative in Sri Lanka is to consult with stakeholders within and external to Sri Lanka as part of South Africa’s initiatives aimed at promoting a lasting political solution, peace initiatives, truth-telling and reconciliation in Sri Lanka. This includes some members of the Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora"
[more]

Tamil Guardian 25 May 2015
Still no ray of light for Tamils despite new Sri Lankan government says Trinco bishop
The Bishop of Trincomalee, Rt Rev Dr Kingsley Swampillai, said that despite the new government that came to power in Sri Lanka there was "still no ray of light" for Tamils seeking a solution to the islands ethnic conflict.

“Although the Tamils have been waiting for a solution to relieve their plight for a long time, there is still no ray of light in this regard,” Bishop Swampillai said in an interview to TamilNet this week.



[more]

Tamil Guardian 25 May 2015
Sri Lankan CID officers probe 'anti-national' groups in Jaffna
Criminal Investigation Division (CID) officers arrived in Jaffna on Saturday to probe whether protests over the rape and murder of a Pungudutivu school girl involved "anti-national groups" who were trying to destablise the Jaffna peninsula, the Sunday Times reported.

Vithiya, who went missing after school on May 13, was found dead with her hands and feet tied to logs the next day. Arrests have been made regarding the incident as demonstrations were held across the North-East, demanding prompt action against the perpetrators.

Peaceful protests calling for those responsible to face justice turned violent on Wednesday, as distrust and scepticism over whether the Sri Lankan police and legal system would ensure justice increased, following the escape of one of the suspects to Colombo. The suspect was later found and returned to Jaffna police station.



[more]

Tamils Against Genocide (TAG) Tamil Guardian 25 May 2015
Profiles of May 2009: Kumaran
The following account is based on interviews to Tamils Against Genocide. Personal details of Kumaran (not his real name), place names and dates have been changed to protect his identity.

 Illustration Keera Ratnam


When Kumaran wakes up in the room he has been given by the Home Office, it takes him a few minutes to adjust to his present surroundings. Sleepless nights, recurrent nightmares and depression help contribute to this disorientation. He feels an overwhelming sense of claustrophobia, of the walls moving in, caging him once again. His room, his present day cage, reminds him of the cell he had been kept prisoner in for two years. It is difficult for him to differentiate between the nightmares of his sleep and his present reality. For Kumaran, life in his room in the UK is one of living torture: uncertainty and threat of deportation mirror the uncertainty and fear which shadowed him when locked away for so many months. For Kumaran the years ahead seem to hold nothing but ceaseless striving: to reconcile the trauma of his past with the relative security of his present.


[more]

Tamil Guardian 25 May 2015
Cameron discusses reconciliation progress with Sri Lankan PM
The British prime minister, David Cameron, discussed progress on reconciliation with the Sri Lankan prime minister, Ranil Wickremasinghe on Monday, as he congratulated Mr Cameron on his electoral victory.

In tweet this morning, Number 10 said: "PM congratulated by PM Wickremesinghe of Sri Lanka on election. Discussed progress on reconciliation & agreed to build bilateral relations."


[more]

Tamil Guardian 24 May 2015
Tamil man injured after Sri Lankan police open fire in Jaffna
Photograph Tamil Guardian

A man has been injured in Jaffna district on Sunday after police opened fire at crowds after locals intervened when police officers assaulted a pregnant woman who was trying to prevent her brother from being detained over a dispute between two families.

Around fifteen police officers arrived in the Uduthurai region looking to arrest a young man in relation to the dispute which had taken place the day before. When the officers realised the accused man was not at home however, they tried to detain his brother, forcing him into the police vehicle.

The man's pregnant sister intervened, trying to the stop the officers from taking her brother away, however the officers assaulted her.

Local residents who had gathered to observe what was taking place were outraged and condemned the police's actions against a pregnant woman.


[more]

Tamil Guardian 24 May 2015
Independent film on Tamil refugees fleeing Sri Lanka wins Palme Do'r at Cannes Film Festival
Photograph:Pierre Suu

An independent film based on Tamil refugees starting a new life in France after fleeing Sri Lanka won the highest prize awarded at the Cannes Film Festival, the Palme d’Or.

‘Dheepan,’ directed by France’s most acclaimed film directors, Jacques Audiard, told the story of a former Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) fighter, a Tamil woman and nine year old girl, who assumed the identities of a dead family to escape an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps in Sri Lanka during the armed phase of the ethnic conflict.

The lead actor, novelist Anthonythasan Jesuthasan, was an actual fighter for the LTTE when he was 16, and sought asylum in France in 1993.

Speaking at an interview during the Cannes film festival on Friday, Mr Jesuthasan when asked if the situation in Sri Lanka had improved said

“Officially in 2009 the war had come to an end. However even today there are still armed attacks against minorities in Sir Lanka. Even today, we don’t know how many prisoners of war were captured by the government, we have no real information.”

Director Jacques Audiard, describing his thinking behind the film, said,

“The intention was not to produce a documentary on the civil war in Sri Lanka or house estates. That violence is the backdrop. We wanted the characters to embody this whole story.”

When asked if the film was intended to be a political statement that portrayed the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) as freedom fighters when they have been labelled as a terrorist organisation by the European Union, Mr Audiard, said,

"I’m a coward in that respect. I didn’t want to make a political statement. However when I learnt about this horrible war, and that people are still suffering, I was deeply upset. Especially when I saw the pictures of the conflict. I can’t assess the conflict. I provide very little information about the background of the conflict because I think other people can do this better than I. It was very interesting to bring this conflict into a fiction for this film”

See full interview below:



[more]

Tamil Guardian 24 May 2015
Uprising inevitable if conditions allowing sexual violence remain unchanged say Tamil students
Tamil students protesting against an environment that allowed for the rape and murder of a school girl in Pungudutivu on May 13, warned that massive student uprisings were inevitable if the conditions allowing such violence were not alleviated. 

 

புங்குடுதீவு மாணவியின் படுகொலையைக் கண்டித்து கிளிநொச்சியில் பாடசாலைச் சமூகம் போராட்டம், எம்மீது தொடரும் அடக்கு முறைகள். மாணவர்கள் ஆதங்கம்............

Posted by Shritharan Sivagnanam on Friday, May 15, 2015

Speaking after the funeral of the murdered school girl last week, one student said,

“The government must realise that it is Tamils that are always subject to such violence. If no appropriate action is taken, an up-rise will start again. A Tamil student’s up-rise will be inevitable.”

Another student said,

“If you wish for students to learn properly such violence should be eliminated. If this violence is forced upon us even further, we will express that the power of the students is bigger. We will fight back and become contributors to a massive uprising. Students must not be intimidated. They should be served justice and the government must act.”
[more]

 
 International Affairs
Tamil Guardian 26 May 2015
UN warns of famine in South Sudan, China urges ceasefire between warring parties

The latest escalations in violence will bring at least 40% of South Sudan’s population in danger of  facing a severe food shortage in coming months said the chief adviser for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation.

Stressing that the conflict in South Sudan would have a severe impact on the people, Erminio Sacco, said,

“People are cut off from markets, cannot plant crops, have lost their livestock and are hiding in the bush swamps with no food, no utensils to cook and no roof over their heads.”

The Sudanese government earlier this week denied supporting militants in South Sudan. The Sudanese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ali al-Sadiq told the official SUNA news agency that Sudan had no interest in such an intervention.

Last week the Chinese government, alongside the UN, European Union and African Union, urged both sides of the conflict to immediately cease military confrontations and safety for humanitarian aid staff.

Tamil Guardian 26 May 2015
Amnesty International finds war crimes committed by Hamas in Gaza

Amnesty International in a report released on Tuesday said that Hamas militants had committed war crimes against Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip during last year’s conflict with Israel.

The report said that Hamas forces had “carried out a brutal campaign of abductions, torture and unlawful killings against Palestinians accused of ‘collaborating’ with Israel and others during Israel’s military offensive against Gaza.”

Amnesty accused the Hamas administration in the Gaza strip of granting “free rein to carry out horrific abuses including against people in its custody. These spine chilling actions, some of which amount to war crimes, we designed to exact revenge and spread fear across the Gaza Strip.”

Tamil Guardian 26 May 2015
EU warns of war crimes as IS captures Palmyra
The European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini warned of potential war crimes being committed by the Islamic State (IS) after the fall of the ancient city of Palmyra last week.

"With the reported occupation of the ancient city of Palmyra by [IS], yet again hundreds of people have been killed and thousands more risk to be exposed to arbitrary violent actions and more destructions of cultural sites might be perpetrated," said Ms Mogherini in a statement.

She went on to state that the group’s “mass killings and deliberate destruction of archaeological and cultural heritage in Syria and Iraq amount to a war crime according to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court”.

See her full statement here.

Also see our earlier post:

Destruction of cultural heritage tantamount to war crimes says UNESCO (06 Mar 2015)
Tamil Guardian 24 May 2015
UN, EU and AU urge Burundi to uphold political dialogue amidst escalating violence

The United Nations, European Union and African Union called on Burundi’s government and opposition to ensure that dialogue continues after an opposition politician was shot dead.

The institutions, which have been facilitating dialogue since the start of this month, jointly "urged all participants to remain fully engaged in the dialogue.”

The UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon called on actors to not “be deterred by those who, through violence, seek to prevent the creation of an environment conducive to peaceful, credible and inclusive elections in Burundi.”

The calls come amidst escalating violence which has caused over 100,000 Burundians to flee to neighbouring countries reports Reuters.

Burundi tension results in 110,000 refugees in neighbouring countries - UN(19 May 2015)

Hundreds protest in Burundi despite ban(18 May 2015)

Tamil Guardian 24 May 2015
Ongoing war crimes in Ukraine conflict says Amnesty International

Ongoing war crimes were being committed by both warring sides of the conflict in Ukraine conflict found an Amnesty International report into the situation.

Amnesty’s program director for Europe and Central Asia programs, John Dalhuisen, said,

“Prisoners on both sides have been beaten and subjected to mock executions. We have also documented summary killings of those held by separatist groups. It is a war crime to torture or deliberately kill captives taken during conflict.”

The report outlined accounts of torture and detention by former prisoners, who were stabbed, kicked and deprived of sleep for days. The investigators interviewed over 30 former prisoners of war, including 16 held by Pro-Kiev forces and 17 by separatists, reports Deutsche Welle.

Tamil Guardian 22 May 2015
UN to investigate executions in Mali

The UN said on Friday that it was in the process of investigating reports of serious human rights abuses in Mali, which included the mass execution of civilians in northern Mali during clashes this week.

The clashes between, Tuareg separatist militants and pro-government paramilitary groups in the north of the country killed at least six civilians and aid workers on Thursday, reports Reuters.

The militants alleged that the pro-government militia rounded up nine people, including two people from international aid agencies, and then executed them.

The Malian government rejected accusations that its troops were involved in the atrocities.

In a statement released on Friday, Mali’s government said,

“The government is surprised by allegations of abuses on the population attributed to armed forces following the events. The government rejects such accusations.”

The National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad, a coalition in the separatist movement, citing its sources on the ground in Tin-Hamma,

“The execution took place in public, at the town’s cattle market and the bodies were still exposed in the public square as of 1500GMT”

Tamil Guardian 22 May 2015
FARC withdraws from ceasefire following government air raids
FARC militants in Colombia officially withdrew from a unilateral ceasefire after government troops killed 26 of its militants.

An announcement made by the organisation on its website, blamed the Colombian government’s actions for its withdrawal from the ceasefire, reports Al-Jazeera.

The organisation, condemning the attacks, on Friday, said,

“The suspension of the unilateral ceasefire was not in our sights, the incoherence of Santos’ government has achieved it”

The militants further called on the Colombian government to re-declare a ceasefire to protect the negotiations that were taking place in Havana.

The FARC militants were killed in a bombing raid and ground combat by the Colombian armed forces in a FARC military stronghold.

Violence in the region escalated after FARC militants killed 11 government soldiers, in what they called a case of self-defence.

 

Tamil Guardian 21 May 2015
UN concerned with diversion of civilian humanitarian aid in Syria

The United Nations children’s fund (UNICEF) expressed concern at reports that emergency food and humanitarian aid was not reaching civilians in Syria due to theft by combatants.

Speaking to press on Thursday, UN spokesperson Farhan Haq, said,

“UNICEF is extremely concerned at reports that some of its humanitarian supplies in Syria have not reached their intended destination.” In a time when so many children in Syria are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance, it is absolutely vital that aid reaches children and families in need and not get diverted.”

The Syrian National Coalition of rebels accused the Syrian army its allied fighters of stealing relief aid and distributing to their troops.

Tamil Guardian 21 May 2015
German court wants harsher punishment for Rwandan geoncide case

Germany's Federal Court of Justice said a Rwandan man already sentenced for being an accessory to genocide could face life in prison, after it ruled that he was also guilty of perpetrating genocide, Reuters reported.

Onesphore Rwabukombe, who has lived in Germany since 2002, was a mayor in north Rwanda at the time of the 1994 genocide, in which an estimated 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed by dominant Hutu forces in 100 days.

He was jailed by a court in Frankfurt for 14 years, after the ethnic Hutu, was found guilty of overseeing and assisting the murder of at least 450 men, women and children at the Kiziguro church compound in east Rwanda, but not of killing anyone himself.

However Germay's highest court has now ruled that he did actively take part in killings.

Witnesses in the original case described him driving militia men to the site of the massacre in his own pick-up truck and ordering the attackers to "get to work".

"The statements do not only prove the objective offence of being an accessory to genocide but also those of perpetration," said the higher court.

Man sentenced in Germany’s first Rwandan genocide trial (18 February 2014)

Tamil Guardian 21 May 2015
US admits child deaths in Syrian air strikes

The US has admitted for the first time its air strikes in Syria caused civilian deaths, after reports that two children died in an air strike last year.

"We regret the unintentional loss of lives," said Lieutenant General James Terry, head of the US-led campaign.

The admission by the government came after an investigation into the incident was conducted by US military authorities, directed by Lt Gen Terry.

A statement on the investigation said the Pentagon conducted a "thorough assessment, review and validation process" and concluded the target buildings were being used exclusively for military purposes.

"The coalition continues to take all reasonable measures during the targeting process to mitigate risks to non-combatants and to comply with the principles of the Law of Armed Conflict," Lt Gen Terry said.

See more here.

Tamil Guardian 20 May 2015
Philippines promises refuge for asylum-seekers stranded on boats

In a statement on Tuesday the government of the Philippines has offered refuge to asylum-seekers stranded on boats in the Andaman Sea. Herminio Coloma, a spokesperson for the President said the Philippines would continue its tradition of extending “humanitarian assistance” to “ ‘boat people’” and “continue to do [their] share in saving lives under existing and long-standing mechanisms pursuant to our commitments under the [UN] convention.”

While the Philippines is a long way off from where many of the boats are currently stranded, it is thus far the only South-East Asian country to step forward and offer a possible haven for the asylum-seekers, many of whom have been stranded on boats for months. Joe Lowry, spokesperson for the International Organization for Migration said, “It is a hopeful sign. We hope the governments in the region would lift their game as well.” Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand have now turned back boats, adopting a strict policy on refusing entry to ships carrying asylum-seekers.

However, despite their governments’ policies, another group of 370 Rohingya and Bangladeshi asylum-seekers was rescued by a group of Indonesian fishermen today. This latest rescue included at least 50 women and children, who were reported to have been stranded at sea for weeks with no food or water.

Currently, ministers from Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia are attending emergency talks in Kuala Lumpur to address the crisis. Myanmar, which by most accounts is the largest source of the asylum-seekers in question, is not in attendance.

Tamil Guardian 20 May 2015
Deadly clashes in Eastern Ukraine

Fighting erupted between Ukrainian government forces and Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine on Tuesday, killing four Ukrainian soldiers. Gennady Moskal, governor of the Luhansk region bordering Russia stated on his website that separatists initiated fire on government positions.

Technically, a ceasefire has been in place since February, however, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said last week that at least 83 Ukrainian servicemen had been killed since then. It is unknown how many casualties the separatists have suffered.

In an interview with the BBC on Tuesday, Poroshenko said, “this is not a fight with Russian-backed separatists, this is a real war with Russia.” He said that while he did not trust Vladimir Putin, he had to have faith in diplomacy.

Tamil Guardian 20 May 2015
North Korea cancels Ban-Ki Moon’s visit
North Korea has cancelled a planned visit by UN Secretary-General, Ban-Ki Moon a day before it was scheduled. Mr. Ban had planned to visit an industrial park in the Kaesong economic zone that is jointly run by South Korea and North Korea.

In comments at a forum in Seoul the secretary general said that no explanation was given and the move was “deeply regrettable”.

Mr. Ban, a former foreign minister for South Korea, would have been the first UN Chief to visit North Korea in 20 years. In his initial announcement of the meeting he stated he would use it to “urge North Korea to co-operate with the international community for the Korean Peninsula and for peace and stability".
Tamil Guardian 19 May 2015
US willing to consider rolling back 'pro-democracy' programmes in Cuba
A senior US official suggested that Washington could modify pro-democracy programmes in Cuba that had been objected by Havana, reports Reuters.

Speaking or press on Tuesday, the State Department official said,

“The democracy programs have changed over time, and they will continue to change over time to reflect a reality, whether that reality is on the ground in Cuba or in the United States. We always have to be cognisant of making sure that when we’re supporting the Cuban people, we’re doing it in a way that is the most effective.”

The comments came ahead of a fourth round of talks between the US and Cuba that is set to take place in Washington on Thursday. 

US approves ferry services to Cuba (06 May 2015)

Cuba welcomes US terror list decision (15 Apr 2015)

Tamil Guardian 19 May 2015
Burundi tension results in 110,000 refugees in neighbouring countries - UN
Heightening political tensions in Burundi has caused an influx of refugees to neighbouring countries said the United Nations on Tuesday.

Speaking to press, the World Health Organisation spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic said the population of Burundi refugee camp in Tanzania had increased to 90,000.

The UN refugee agency spokesperson, Adrian Edwards, speaking at the same press conference added that there were at least 26,000 Burundian refugees in Rwanda taking the total to 111,000 refugees in all three neighbouring countries.
Tamil Guardian 18 May 2015
Hundreds protest in Burundi despite ban
Hundreds of people protested in the streets of Burundi on Monday following a failed coup last week to oust the country's president.

Protests have been ongoing in Burundi since April when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced he would be running for a third term. Presidents are limited to two terms in office by both the 2000 Arusha accords that ended Burundi’s civil conflict and the country’s 2005 constitution.

Unlike previous weeks however, protesters clashed with armed military personnel as officials warned against protests. The government of Burundi is seen to be ramping up its campaign against protests with army patrols roaming the capital and soldiers stationed in areas where protests were expected.

[more]

Tamil Guardian 18 May 2015
Saudi Arabia resumes air strikes in Yemen following end of ceasefire
The Saudi Arabia-led military coalition resumed strikes against Houthi militants in Yemen on Monday, hours after the expiration of the humanitarian ceasefire in spite of calls for an extension by the UN.

Humanitarian agencies worked frantically to deliver supplies to Yemen during the short break in fighting. Yemen has faced difficulties receiving any commercial imports, which it relies on heavily, as a result of the Saudi-led arms embargo. Julien Harneis, UNICEF’s Yemen representative, said that the ships that were able to dock during the ceasefire could only provide a, “minute percentage of the amount of goods that need to come into the country for any normal life.”

The Arab state coalition reported targeting Houthi rebel positions in the Aden province on Monday. US Secretary of State John Kerry said in remarks to the press on Monday, “We continue to support the idea of extending the humanitarian pause, but I think under the circumstances at the moment that will be difficult.”

Political parties from Yemen began talks in the Saudi capital on Sunday to find a solution to the situation. The Houthis however, were notably absent.
Tamil Guardian 18 May 2015
EU approves naval force to address migrant smuggling from North Africa
The European Union has approved a plan to use naval forces to intercept migrant smuggler ships operating from North African countries, such as Libya, at a meeting of EU defence ministers and foreign ministers on Monday.

The plan aims to militarise the EU response to the surge in migrant smuggling ships crossing the Mediterranean, where thousands of asylum-seekers have already died attempting the perilous journey.

The plan to use naval force still requires further approvals from European governments and legal legitimacy from the UN Security Council, in addition to possible cooperation from countries in North Africa. The UK will play a leading role at the Security Council in drafting a resolution that provides the legal basis for this use of naval force.

[more]

 
HIGHLIGHTS
  Editorial
Struggle for remembrance
The British Tamil ballot
Demanding demilitarisation
  Opinion
Chief Minister's statement delivered at May 18 remembrance event in Mullivaikkal
At home and abroad: accountability, reconciliation and Sinhala Buddhism
Preventing atrocities now — and in the future
  Feature
Profiles of May 2009: Kumaran
Tamils remember May 2009 massacre amid surveillance by Sri Lankan intelligence officers
Revisiting May 2009 - Civilians walk into SL camps after thousands killed in night of shelling, surrendering LTTE leadership killed, Tamils blockade Westminster
  Culture & Community
A night to remember as Tamil comedy takes to the stage
'Super Singer Junior' audiences stunned by song dedicated to Eelam Tamils
Denmark Tamil schools compete in Malathy Cup football tournament



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