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Tamil Guardian 23 November 2014
Who is Maithripala Sirisena?
Last week the former secretary general of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party and minister of health, Maithripala Sirisena, was announced as the common opposition candidate for the upcoming presidential elections.  

Sirisena and Rajapaksa embrace during Sri Lankan government celebrations on May 19 2009 Photo: lkwebnews.com

The politician has been one of the more vocal SLFP politicians over the past few years.

Endorsement of action against pro-opposition SLFP politicians

Sirisena, in 2007, endorsed the sacking of government ministers in the SLFP who were seemingly supportive of the opposition United National Party (UNP) in Sri Lanka.

Support for ending 6 year ceasefire with LTTE

In 2008, the minister, rejected calls to uphold a ceasefire with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) that had been in place for 6 years.

“The government will not go for a ceasefire with the LTTE. We will not have any form of discussion with the LTTE,” said Sirisena, after the 6 year ceasefire was broken in 2008.

Alleges that TNA and opposition candidate working for 'terrorist' demands

In 2010, Sirisena alleged that the Tamil National Alliance and the, then opposition candidate, General Fonseka, had betrayed Sri Lanka to ‘terrorist’ demands by pledging to withdraw armed forces from the North, dismantle the High Security Zone, re-merge the North East, release LTTE suspects and give autonomy to the province.

Commends India's protection of Sri Lankan sovereignty at UNHRC

Commenting on the 2012 United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution, Sirisena commended India  for making amendments to the resolution that safeguarded Sri Lanka from “the interferences of UN bodies,” adding that no intrusions should be imposed without consent of the Sri Lankan government.

Accuses NGOs of working against Sri Lanka at UNHRC

Sirisena went on to allege that a Catholic NGO, Caritas SEDEC, was instigating protests and working against Sir Lanka at the UNHRC.

Accuses TNA and UNP of working to re-establish LTTE

Later that year, the SLFP general secretary went on to accuse the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and the opposition UNP of assisting “LTTE activists” to help re-establish the LTTE.

Repeatedly rejects UNHRC resolution for investigation into Sri Lankan crimes

 In 2014, Sirisena repeatedly rejected the UNHRC resolution mandating an international investigation into Sri Lankan war crimes and crimes against humanity, stating that the SLFP “rejects the resolution against Sri Lanka moved at the UN Human Rights council.”

“The SLFP said that these invasive forces who ruled Sri Lanka from 1505 to 1948 are conspiring against the country based on the misleading information provided by the LTTE rump overseas, when Sri Lanka is in the process of rebuilding the country through national reconciliation process with the end of terrorism,” he added in March 2014.

Condemns NPC calls on Sri Lanka to allow UN officials to North-East

Sirisena, also expressed concern over a Northern Provincial Council resolution that called for Sri Lanka to allow access to UN investigators.

“All provincial councils including the Northern Provincial Council have pledged to act within the constitution of Sri Lanka. They cannot violate it,” warned Sirisena in Sepetember 2014.

TNA to decide on common opposition candidate endorsement (23 November 2014)

SLFP general secretary to be common opposition candidate (21 Nov 2014)

Common candidate must pledge end to militarisation and land grabs in Tamil areas - TNA (13 Nov 2014)
Tamil Guardian 23 November 2014
Sri Lankan parties urged to refrain from using pope in political campaigns
The director for the media and information center for the Pope’s visit to Sri Lanka in 2015, urged political groups to refrain from using cut outs of the Pope in their campaigns for the presidential elections.

“It has been brought to our notice that the political posters and cut outs with the picture of the Holy Father have come up in some places in the country.  We earnestly request respective authorities and persons to remove those political posters and cut-outs immediately and urge all the political groups to refrain from using either the Holy Father or His visit to Sri Lanka for the political campaign of the presidential election," said Rev Cyril Gamini Fernando.

Vatican confirms Pope Francis visit to Sri Lanka  (14 November 2014)
Tamil Guardian 23 November 2014
Sri Lanka arrests 14 Indian fishermen
Sri Lankan authorities have arrested 14 Indian fishermen, claiming that they were poaching in Sri Lankan waters.

The Sri Lankan navy also took into custody three fishing trawlers that belonged to the fishermen. The Indian Consulate in Jaffna is reportedly in touch with the arrested fishermen and has said that they are likely to be produced before the Kayts Magistrate.

Meanwhile a group of 20 Indian fishermen were chased away by the Sri Lankan navy on Sunday whilst fishing in the Palk Strait. 

[more]

Tamil Guardian 23 November 2014
TNA to decide on common opposition candidate endorsement
The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) is to meet on Monday to decide on whether to endorse the common opposition candidate, former general secretary of the SLFP, Maitripala Sirisena.

The TNA leader, R. Sampanthan told BBC Tamil, a decision had not been taken so dar, and would be taken shortly.

"His views are welcome, but we haven't come together as a party to discuss this," Sampanthan said on Friday, adding that there was a need to obtain the views of the Tamil people.

Meanwhile, TNA MP Mavai Senathiraja told Ceylon Today:

"The TNA will be meeting on Monday to decide on its stance with regard to the new political developments in the South. We have to act cautiously in taking our decisions. The TNA will even meet the people in the North and East before arriving at any decision."
 
TNA MP Suresh Premachandran, told the newspaper, that "support will be extended to whoever addresses the issues of Tamil people in the country".


[more]

Tamil Guardian 22 November 2014
Ambassador Sison confirmed for top UN posts

The US Ambassador for Sri Lanka, Michele Sison, has been confirmed as the deputy representative of the United States to the UN and the UN Security Council, and the representative of the US at the UN General Assembly.

President Barack Obama had nominated Ambassador Sison to the post, along with several other key appointments, in July.

“These dedicated individuals bring a wealth of experience and talent to their new roles and I am proud to have them serve in this Administration. I look forward to working with them in the months and years to come,” the president said at the time.

Obama nominates Ambassador Sison for key UN post (09 July 2014)

Tamil Guardian 22 November 2014
No Fire Zone documentary wins BRITDOC Impact award

The ‘No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka’ documentary was one of 5 documentaries to win a BRITDOC Impact prize on Friday.


The awards, held by the non-profit BRITDOC (British Documentary Foundation), honour documentaries that have had significant impact in work towards social change and justice.

"We're thrilled to be celebrating these five fantastic films, not only bringing great stories to communities but bringing about real world change. It doesn’t get better than this," said Jess Search, Director of BRITDOC, to the Huffington Post.

No Fire Zone stands a chance to win another award worth $5,000, the Netflix High 5, which will be awarded to the production team that gets the highest number of support tweets.

A vote for the No Fire Zone documentary to win the award can be placed by sending a tweet containing “#NetflixHi5 to @nofirezonemovie” by Monday night.

Humanitarian activist Queen Noor of Jordan in a blog post congratulated the film makers for the award and said the "shocking" documentary  played a "crucial role" in the UN Human Rights Council's decision to "order an independent review of the death of 70,000 civilians".

The documentary was earlier nominated for an award by The International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (Emmy), which takes place in the US next week.

No Fire Zone documentary nominated for Emmy awards (13 October 2014)

Tamil Guardian 22 November 2014
Foreign actors attempting to destabilise Sri Lanka through common candidate says SLFP
A group of senior members of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) described Maithripala Sirisena's adoption of the common candidate role as a foreign attempt to destabilise Sri Lanka.

The comments were made during a media briefing convened by the former party of Sirisena, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) , reports dailymirror.lk.

"What happened yesterday is a link in the chain of foreign conspiracies that seek to destabilize this country. There have been certain countries that have pumped money into this scheme through their embassies to establish a puppet regime in Sri Lanka. We warn them to put a stop to these activities,” said a government minister, Dullas Alahapperuma.
Tamil Guardian 22 November 2014
UNHRC credibility eroding - Sri Lanka

The Sri Lankan government has questioned the credibility of the UN Human Rights Council, over its decision to pursue an independent inquiry into mass atrocities in Sri Lanka, despite its objections, reported Colombo Gazette.

Permanent Representative to the UN in New York Palitha Kohona said at the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) of the 69th Session of the UN General Assembly that the UNHRC is increasingly politicised and warned that it was losing its credibility.

He told the session that the government feels that a few countries have been selected for adverse attention by the council, while others in a comparable situation are being ignored.

Tamil Guardian 22 November 2014
Posters commemorating Maaveerar Naal emerge at Jaffna university
Posters commemorating Maaveerar Naal have gone up around Jaffna university campus this week, reports Nam Thesam.


“Our tearful respect to our martyrs who sacrificed their lives for our nation to bloom and to our people killed by state terrorism,”
said the posters.

“Our fallen martyrs' dream will come true, Tamil Eelam will be born tomorrow."


The posters have appeared as the Sri Lankan military increased its presence across the North-East, as Maaveerar Naal, or Heroes Day, approaches.

The Jaffna University teachers' union condemned the ramped up security presence last week (see here).

In previous years, Sri Lankan authorities shut down Jaffna University as Maaveerar Naal approached and Sri Lankan security forces have stormed the campus, attacking and arresting Tamil youth as they lit candles in an attempt to mark the remembrance day.

[more]

Tamil Guardian 21 November 2014
Tamil Nadu asked to ban celebrations of LTTE by BJP's Swamy
Tamil Nadu politicians who called for the birthday of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) leader, to be celebrated were threatened with calls for arrest under the National Security Act, on Friday.

India’s Bharatiya Janatha Party (BJP) politician in Tamil Nadu, Subramanian Swamy, urged India’s Home Minister to issue a directive to the Tamil Nadu government to ban the celebration of Vellupillai Prabhakaran’s birthday, reports
Colombo Page.

“These celebrations are being organised by MDMK leader Vaiko. MDMK must be ejected from the NDA and Vaiko should be locked up under the National Security Act,” Swamy said in a press release.


Speaking on plans to commemorate the LTTE leader, Vaiko earlier said, “Celebratory chants should reverberate the cause of Tamil Eelam on that day.”
Tamil Guardian 21 November 2014
Protest against death sentence of remaining Eelam-Tamil fishermen held in North-East

Relatives of the fishermen outside Jaffna prison (Uthayan)

Relatives of three Tamil fishermen, who remain on death row, have staged a protest outside Jaffna prison, calling on the Sri Lankan state to release the men, reported the Uthayan.

A total of 8 fishermen were sentenced to death over drug trafficking charges, however the 5 Indian Tamil fishermen were released after protests in Tamil Nadu and subsequent intervention by the Indian government.
[more]

Tamil Guardian 21 November 2014
Presidential polls to be held on January 8

The Sri Lankan presidential elections will be held on January 8, according to the country’s election commission.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa will contest the poll for an unprecedented third term, against the common opposition candidate announced earlier today, his former health minister Maithripala Sirisena.

The poll will take place five days before the visit by Pope Francis.

Tamil Guardian 21 November 2014
SLFP general secretary to be common opposition candidate

Sirisena and Kumaratunga (2nd and 3rd from right) at press conference announcing his candidateship for presidency/ColollmboMirror

The general secretary of President Rajapaksa’s SLFP, Maithripala Sirisena, announced on Friday that he would contest the presidential election as the opposition’s common candidate.

“I thank all political parties and political groups for selecting me as the Common Candidate,” Sirisena, who is also the minister of health, said at a special press conference in Colombo, flanked by former president Chandrika Bandranaike Kumaratunga and other officials who have left the government.

The minister said a catastrophe had befallen the country and vowed to bring change, pledging to abolish the executive presidency within 100 days of being elected as president.

“One family is creating a soft dictatorship,” Sirisena told reporters today in Colombo. “There is corruption, injustice and rule of law has broken down. We have taken a decision to change the situation.”

Sirisena expressed his gratitude to the UNP and said he would appoint UNP leader Ranil Wickramasinghe as the prime minister, if elected.
[more]

Tamil Guardian 20 November 2014
Solheim provided parts for LTTE air force - Sri Lanka

The Sri Lankan government has accused former peace negotiator Eric Solheim of being "a liar and a supporter of terrorists", after he rejected claims made by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, reported the Daily Mirror.

Speaking at the weekly press briefing of the cabinet, government spokesperson and minister Keheliya Rambukwella said Solheim had a "soft spot for separatist terrorists" and that he provided the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam with equipment, including parts for its air force.

“It was he who arranged to transport high-tech communication equipment to the North for the use of LTTE from the Bandaranaike International Airport and spare parts to assemble an impoverished flying machine, (kurumbatti) for the LTTE. In short, Eric Solheim did a lot of harm to Sri Lanka and its people masquerading as a peace negotiator,” Minister Rambukwella said.

Rajapaksa had accused Norway of funding the LTTE and Eric Solheim of supporting the organisation, a claim rejected by the former peace envoy.

Tamil Guardian 20 November 2014
Sri Lanka and Belarus commit to enhancing business ties
The chairman of the Belarusian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and his Sri Lankan counterpart at the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, signed a memorandum to enhance partnerships between business circles in the two nations.

On Thursday, a Belarusian delegate accompanied by representatives of the business community took part in a Belarusian-Sri Lankan business forum organised at the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, reports Belarusian News.

Belarus was labelled as "Europe's last dictatorship" by the former US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice in 2005.
Tamil Guardian 20 November 2014
Sri Lankan elections commissioner to announce presidential election date within 48 hours
The Sri Lankan elections commissioner announced that a date for the presidential elections would be revealed within the next 48 hours after the Sri Lankan president signed a proclamation, on Thursday, declaring his intention to hold a presidential election seeking another term. 

Highly placed sources have suggested that the elections are likely to be held between January 3 and 7, reports asianmirror.lk.
Tamil Guardian 20 November 2014
Navy acquires 66 acres of private land in Mathakal
The Sri Lankan navy has acquired 66 acres of private land in Mathakal, Jaffna reports the Uthayan.

The latest acquisition by Sri Lanka's military comes after a protest earlier this week. Villagers in Mathakal prevented the Sri Lankan navy from surveying lands, which were to be acquired by the military this week.

See our earlier post: Protest prevents Sri Lankan military land grab attempt in Jaffna  (18 November 2014)

Following the protest military surveyors arrived at the village again stating that they had now acquired the land from its owner and could not stop them from undertaking their activities.

The owner of the land reportedly said that the navy occupied his lands for a long time and he still did not know when his land would be returned to him, thus decided to sell it to the military instead.
Tamil Guardian 19 November 2014
MoD warns of ongoing threat of secessionists
The Sri Lankan Ministry of Defence warned on Wednesday of the ongoing threat of secessionist both on and off the island.

"Although we have defeated terrorism in Sri Lanka, it was only armed terrorism that was defeated. While armed terrorism was defeated there are still secessionists in various locations. They could be within Sri Lanka as well. It is certainly clear that they exist outside of Sri Lanka, they speak about it openly," said the Ministry's spokesperson Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasooriya at a press briefing on Wednesday.

"There are groups in foreign countries which have said they will not turn back until a separate state has been created within Sri Lanka. There could be groups within Sri Lanka which are sponsored by them," he warned, vowing that "nevertheless, the Army will never allow for the people to be deprived of the freedom to spend time freely in Sri Lanka".


[more]

 
 International Affairs
Tamil Guardian 24 November 2014
US welcomes interim oil deal between Kurdistan and Baghdad
The US vice president Joe Biden welcomed an agreement made last week between the Iraqi central government and Kurdistan over managing oil exports in the region.

Speaking in Istanbul on Saturday, Biden said he was encouraged by the interim agreement made by the two regional governments.

Iraq and Kurdistan Regional Government agree preliminary oil export deal (16 November 2014)
Tamil Guardian 23 November 2014
Farc calls for reduced government military presence and international mediators for release of captives
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) militants warned the Colombian government, increased government military activity would jeopardise the release of the recently captured Colombian general, reports Agence France Presse.

Condemning Colombian troop deployments and movement restricting security measures imposed into their areas, the Farc said,

“These communities have been practically besieged by the army.”

The Farc went onto call for demilitarisation before freeing the captured general, and requested the Red Cross to be involved in the hand over.

FARC militants defend capture of Colombian general  (19 November 2014)
Tamil Guardian 23 November 2014
Almost 50 killed in attack in northern Nigerian state
Boko Haram militants are alleged to have killed 48 people in an attack in the northern Nigerian Borno state, on the border with Chad.

The victims, mostly fishermen reportedly had their hands tied and throats slit by insurgents from the Islamic militant group.

The head of the fish traders association Abubakar Gamandi told AFP "the attackers killed their victims silently without the use of the gun to avoid attracting attention from the multi-national troops."

Troops from Nigeria, Chad and Niger are currently stationed at the village of Doron Baga, where the attack took place, as part of the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) to battle against Boko Haram.

The BBC reported the attack took place after villagers from the community pointed out four insurgents to security forces and were shot dead.

The attack was apparently aimed at punishing the community after four insurgents were pointed out to soldiers and were shot dead.
Tamil Guardian 23 November 2014
Israeli demolition of Palestinian homes a war crime – HRW
Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Israel should immediately stop destroying the family homes of Palestinians suspected of carrying out attacks on Israelis, stating the practise amounts to a war crime.

Last week, Israeli authorities demolished the family homes of a Palestinian man who rammed his car into a baby and woman at Jerusalem station, killing them both. HRW noted that in 2014, there have been 5 times that Israeli forces have destroyed Palestinian family homes, leaving dozens homeless.

“When carried out in occupied territory, including East Jerusalem, it amounts to collective punishment, a war crime,” said HRW.

Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director, added, “punitive home demolitions are blatantly unlawful... Israel should prosecute, convict, and punish criminals, not carry out vengeful destruction that harms entire families.”

The demolitions took place despite the German, French, British, Italian and Spanish ambassadors calling on Israel to halt the practise.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon confirmed that the European Union diplomats had met with Israel regarding the practise, but said "this is not meant to be punitive, but rather to dissuade others from carrying out terrorist attacks."

[more]

Tamil Guardian 22 November 2014
US to return to combat with Taliban

The US has decided to expand their military role in Afghanistan, enabling them to target Taliban fighters from 2015.

Under previous withdrawal plans, the 9,800 US soldiers remaining in the country, would only be training Afghan soldiers and fight remnants of Al Qaeda.

The troops will not go after the Taliban unless they "directly threaten" the US, an unnamed official told US media.

“We will no longer target belligerents solely because they are members of the Taliban,” the official said. “To the extent that Taliban members directly threaten the United States and coalition forces in Afghanistan or provide direct support to Al Qaeda, however, we will take appropriate measures to keep Americans safe.”

In a Shift, Obama Extends U.S. Role in Afghan Combat - The New York Times (22 Nov 2014)

 

Tamil Guardian 22 November 2014
Western sanctions are aimed at 'regime change' in Russia says Lavrov
Russia Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has accused Western countries of using sanctions to try and bring about regime change in Russia.

Speaking at a meeting of the advisory Foreign and Defense Policy Council in Moscow, Lavrov said,

“The EU is our largest partner... Nobody is going to shoot himself in the foot and reject cooperation with Europe, but everyone understands that it won’t be business as usual anymore.
“But we don’t need the kind of business we had. [That] was like ‘Russia must do this and must do that,' and we want to cooperate as equals,” he added.
The foreign minister went on to add,
"As for the concept behind to the use of coercive measures, the West is making clear it does not want to force Russia to change policy but wants to secure regime change."

"Now public figures in Western countries say there is a need to impose sanctions that will destroy the economy and cause public protests."

[more]

Tamil Guardian 22 November 2014
Chilean generals jailed for torture of president's father
Two former Chilean generals have been sentenced to jail for the torture of incumbent President Michelle Bachelet's father in 1973.

Edgar Cevallos Jones and Ramon Caceres Jorquera were sentenced to two and three years in prison respectively, for the torture of General Alberto Bachelet, who opposed a military coup led by General Augusto Pinochet.

Alberto Bachelet died in 1974, with investigators linking his death to the torture he received.

The BBC reported that in a letter to his family, Bachelet said, "I was detained in solitary confinement for 26 days... I was subjected to torture for 30 hours. They broke me inside."

Chilean government spokesman Alvaro Elizalde said the ruling “is a step forward precisely to advance in the truth and justice Chile needs."

However the sentence has been criticised by other torture victims in Chile as being too lenient. One man who was also tortured by the former generals told AP,

"I think it seems a bit ridiculous, that after all the years of repression, torture against hundreds of people from different organisations, they get three years.
Tamil Guardian 22 November 2014
Dozens killed in Kenya bus attack
At least 28 people have been killed in a bus attack in northern Kenya, which police officials have blamed on Somali militant group al-Shabab.

The bus was travelling to Nairobi from the northern Mandera county, near the Somali border, when it was ambushed by gunmen. Non-Muslims     were reportedly separated out from other passengers and killed.

Though it was not immediately clear who the attackers were, regional police chief Noah Mwavinda told AFP, "I can confirm... that 28 innocent travellers were brutally executed by the Shabab."

Mandera Country Governor Ali Ibrahim Roba said on Twitter,
"The inhumane butchering of innocent Kenyans by terrorist must get [a] very firm response from our national security team."
The killings come after Kenya security forces carried out a series of raids on mosques in the city of  Mombasa which saw over 350 people arrested and one person killed. The raids heightened tensions in the region, with four people stabbed to death in apparent revenge attacks last week.

Kenya has troops on Somalia as part of an African Union Mission currently battling al-Shabab militants, alongside Somalia's government.
Tamil Guardian 21 November 2014
ICC considers war crimes charges against Islamic State militants
The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) said that the ICC was contemplating tabling war crimes charges against Islamic State militants, noting that several fighters were from countries party to the ICC statute.

Speaking in an interview to the German news outlet, Sueddeutsche, Fatou Bensouda noted that several European and Arab nations had supplied the ICC with background fields of citizens that were recruited b the Islamic State.
Tamil Guardian 21 November 2014
Martial law to remain ‘indefinitely’ in Thailand

The Thai Justice Minister Paiboon Koomchaya said martial law will remain “indefinitely” as protests against the military’s rule increase.

General Paiboon told Reuters that martial law will remain "because the government and junta need it as the army's tool".

"We are not saying that martial law will stay in place for 50 years, no, this is not it. We just ask that it remain in place for now, indefinitely," he said, adding that the army "does not violate anyone's rights".

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, the leader of the military coup in May told local media on Thursday that Thailand needed martial law.

"Am I happy? No, I'm not. The longer [martial law] is in place, the more unhappy I become. Yet, it's necessary," he said.

"Today, priority must be given to the future of the country. Conflict and social disparity must be stopped."

The junta has been arresting activists for displays of dissent. Nacha Kong-udom, a prominent young activist was arrested after flashing a three-finger salute used in the Hollywood movies, The Hunger Games, a symbol adopted by those opposed to the coup.

Gen Prayuth told media on Friday he was "unconcerned" about the popularity of the salute. Asked if it was banned, he said: "I don't know whether it is illegal or not but it could jeopardise their futures."

Tamil Guardian 20 November 2014
Egypt 'discussing' pardon for Al Jazeera journalists

The Egyptian government is discussing the possibility of grating a pardon to two of the three Al Jazeera journalists detained in the country, said President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi in an interview with France 24.

"Let us say that this matter is being discussed to solve the issue," Sisi said.

"If we find that this is appropriate for Egyptian national security, then we will do it," he added.

Canadian bureau chief Mohammad Fahmy, Australian correspondent Peter Greste and Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed were jailed for seven years earlier this year. Mr Mohamed, as an Egyptian national, is not expected to be granted a pardon, according to the BBC.

Egypt jails Al-Jazeera journalists amidst international condemnation (23 June 2014)

Tamil Guardian 20 November 2014
Burkina Faso appoints military leader as prime minister
Burkina Faso authorities appointed Lt Col Isaac Zida as a transitional prime minister after the army officer declared himself head of state on Tuesday, reports the BBC.

The agreement states that Zida will assume power over a yearlong transition to elections The newly appointed head of state is expected to hold talks on forming a transitional government.

See our earlier posts:

Burkina Faso announces interim president (17 November 2014)

Transition plan to civilian led rule agreed in Burkina Faso (14 Nov 2014)

African Union issues ultimatum to Burkina Faso army (03 Nov 2014)

Burkina Faso sees third leader in 24 hours (01 Nov 2014)


Burkina Faso president resigns amid protests (31 Oct 2014) 
 

Tamil Guardian 20 November 2014
'Mistaken' shell attack leaves Kachin peace talks in jeopardy
A shell attack by Myanmar's military, which killed dozens of militants with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), threatens to halt a fragile process of peace talks between the two sides.

The KIA announced that 23 cadres were killed after a shell was fired on them from government positions. The cadres were undertaking military training exercises at the time and takes place after the latest round of peace talks between the two sides ended on September 27 without an agreement being reached.

Kachin State's security minister, Col Than Aung, was reported by the BBC as saying the KIA was “mistakenly hit” and the firing of the shell had been intended as a warning shot.

Mong Gwang, a captain with the Kachin Independence Army, condemned the attack. “We are outraged,” he said. “This means further conflict is coming.”

The KIA's second-in-command General Gun Maw commented on the attack stating it was intended to force concessions in peace talks. He went on to add that the KIA has indications that Myanmar's military is preparing for a wider offensive against the group, with troops and heavy weapons being moved into the Shan state.

The United Nationalities Federal Council, a coalition of ethnic groups, released a statement on Thursday, saying the military had “deliberately planned and fired” the shell at the KIA, and questioned the government's “genuine desire” for peace.

“This has caused a tremendous obstacle in building trust,” said the group.
Tamil Guardian 20 November 2014
Spanish prosecutors to bring criminal charges against Catalan president
Spanish prosecutors will be filing a criminal case against Catalan President Artur Mas and two other officials, in response to an independence referendum held in the region earlier this month.

Spain's Attorney General Eduardo Torres-Dulce met with over 20 senior public prosecutors from across the country this week, where it was overwhelmingly agreed that a case should be put before the High Court of Justice in Catalonia.

Catalan's regional government held a non-binding referendum on November 9, with over two million Catalans participating, despite a court ruling declaring the poll “illegal”. More than 80% voted for independence.

[more]

Tamil Guardian 20 November 2014
Rwanda begins public inquiry into BBC 'genocide denial' documentary
The Rwandan government has begun a commission into a BBC documentary that it accuses of  genocide denial and violating media ethics this week.

The commission, led by the former Prosecutor-General Martin Ngoga,begun hearing testimonies this week with Rwanda Media Commission (RMC) chairperson Fred Muvunyi calling for the prosecution of those involved in the documentary.

"The documentary lacks in basic journalistic standards, it violated many principles and laws and this is why we request that in your final recommendations, you mention the need to take a legal action since there are criminal elements," said Muvunyi.

[more]

Tamil Guardian 19 November 2014
Putin backs deeper ties with North Korea
Russian president Vladmir Putin has called for stronger ties with North Korea, after meeting with a special envoy of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.

Speaking during a televised ceremony where Putin received the new North Korean ambassador's credentials, the Russian President said,
"We maintain friendly relations with one of our neighbours, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.”

"A further deepening of political ties and trade and economic cooperation is definitely in the interests of the peoples of both countries and ensuring regional stability and security."
The meeting between the two countries comes as the United Nations passed a resolution on Tuesday calling for North Korea to be referred to the International Criminal Court. North Korea responded angrily to the vote, warning that more nuclear tests may be carried out in response.

[more]

Tamil Guardian 19 November 2014
UN human rights experts say Bosnia genocide convict should not to be released
A team of UN human rights experts have expressed concern over the possible release of Milorad Trbic, who was found guilty of committing genocide in Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina by a Bosnian court in 2009.

The ruling and sentence of 30 years in prison was recently overturned by Bosnia's constitutional court. A retrial is expected to take place.

“The release of convicted criminals undermines efforts made by the Bosnian State Court and the international community to achieve justice, especially in light of the wider failure by the Government to adopt and implement a comprehensive transitional justice strategy,” the experts said in a joint statement published by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

“Each decision has led to a prisoner’s release pending retrial and retrials have led to much lower sentences,” the experts said, adding, “There is a grave risk that the convicted criminal will flee to another jurisdiction, as happened recently in the case of war criminal Novak Ðukic."


[more]

Tamil Guardian 19 November 2014
FARC militants defend capture of Colombian general
The FARC militants in Colombia defended the kidnapping of a Colombian general and his two companions during peace negotiations, reports the BBC.

In a statement, the militant group said that Colombians were captured because “they were military personnel" moving in a “war zone.”

The FARC statement criticised the government saying that “even in the middle of a peace process,” government forces had “the right to kill and tear apart” FARC militants without them having the right to respond.

Colombian government officials stated they did not know why the general and his entourage were in FARC territory, reports CNN.

The rebels have continued to engage in peace talks since 2011 despite the killing of the FARC leader who started the negotiations.

FARC militants defend capture of Colombian general (17 Nov 2014)

 
HIGHLIGHTS
  Editorial
Impeding justice
Thunderclap
Renewing resolve
  Opinion
Gendered Genocide: Sri Lanka’s War Against Tamils
Review: 'Sri Lanka's Secrets: How the Rajapaksa Regime Gets Away with Murder'
'Why Sri Lanka's detention of Balenderan Jayakumari is so sinister' - Callum Macrae
  Feature
Who is Maithripala Sirisena?
Remembering Thamilselvan 7 years on
30 Oct 1995: Jaffna exodus as Tamils flee for Vanni ahead of SL military advance
  Culture & Community
Breaking the Silence Journal 2014: Cardiff University
Tamil students inspired to excel at UKTSU's Careers Network 2014
Barts and London University Tamil Society host language workshop



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