Sunday, 29 March 2015
Home Tamil Affairs International Affairs Editorial Opinion Feature Culture & Community Interviews
 Tamil Affairs
Tamil Guardian 29 March 2015
Tamils arrested over army-critical documentary

Police in Colombo have arrested 8 people for producing a documentary 'defamatory' of the army, the Daily Mirror reported.

The individuals, five of whom hail from Jaffna in the Tamil North-East, were taken into custody at a house in Narahenpita, a suburb of the Sri Lankan capital.

Police said the documentary contained scenes portraying the Sri Lanka Army as "immoral, inhumane and atrocious", adding that the documentary was shot in India and then brought to Sri Lanka for dubbing.

Tamil Guardian 29 March 2015
Sri Lankan army extends 'welfare projects' in Jaffna

The Sri Lankan army extended its 'community welfare projects' across the Jaffna region this month, despite pledges by the new Sri Lankan government to cease the military's civilian activities.

Earlier this month, the army's 55th division donated gifts to Tamil children and teachers at the Kevil school, whilst the army's 52nd division donated artificial limbs on March 4, to 43 disabled locals.


Tamil Guardian 29 March 2015
UN Special Rapporteur on truth and justice arrives in Sri Lanka
The UN Special Rapporteur on truth, justice, reparations and guarantees of non-recurrence arrived in Sri Lanka on Sunday, for a six day visit.

Mr Pablo de Greiff is to meet with the government and civil society organisations, as well as meeting with Tamil groups in the North.


Tamil Guardian 29 March 2015
Sri Lanka to reduce FDI barriers

Sri Lanka's finance minister, Ravi Karunanayake said Sri Lanka intends to revise investment rules to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) by easing barriers of entry, Lanka Business Online said.

Delivering the keynote address at the 18th Asian Investment Conference organised by Credit Suisse, the minister said the external account is a problem and as almost half a percent of the country’s public borrowing is denominated in foreign currencies, he said he favours a stronger rupee to reduce debt servicing costs.

“Little Sri Lanka needs help to meet its people’s expectations and become the pearl of the Indian Ocean,” Mr Karunanayake said.

Tamil Guardian 29 March 2015
New Sri Lankan govt continues state control of private banks
Sri Lanka's new government has named new directors to six private banks in which the government has a stake, prompting concern in the banking sector, reports the

The six commercial banks consist Hatton National Bank (HNB), Commercial Bank, National Development Bank (NDB), Sampath Bank, DFCC and Seylan Bank.

According to the paper, Sampath Bank, and the Commercial Bank are likely to resist the government's measures.

“We will resist it like how we opposed Harry Jayawardena’s attempted take-over [many years back],” the Sunday Times quoted source close to the founding directors of the Sampath bank as saying.

“These changes are a repeat of the Nivard Cabraal era where the government sought to control private commercial banks. It’s no different,” a senior banker was also quoted as saying.

See more here.

Tamil Guardian 29 March 2015
Wigneswaran 'snubs' Ranil during Jaffna visit

The Northern Provincial Council's Chief Minister CV Wigneswaran boycotted a meeting with Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who is currently visiting Jaffna, Ceylon Today reported.

The chief minister snubbed the meeting due to comments made recently by the prime minister, who had described the NPC resolution on genocide as "racist", defended the military's presence in the North-East and accused Mr Wigneswaran of being uncooperative with Colombo in a recent TV interview in India, the paper reported sources close to the chief minister as saying.

The prime minister, state minister Rosy Senanayake, Vijayakala Maheswaran and V Radhakrishnan are currently on a visit to the North-East.

Wigneswaran tells Sri Lanka PM nothing racist about demanding truth (25 February 2015)

Tamil Guardian 28 March 2015
Sampanthan urges ITAK to support registering TNA as a party
The leader of Tamil National Alliance (TNA), urged constituent members of the coalition to support the process of registering the TNA as a political party, reports BBC Tamil.

The move is currently being resisted by the Ilankai Thamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK), whilst being supported by the other three constituent parties: TELO, PLOTE and EPRLF.

Addressing ITAK members in the Trincomalee district on Saturday, at a discussion on the current political situation, Mr Sampanthan, stressed the importance of registering the TNA as a party, as well as the importance of the ITAK supporting this in particular.


Tamil Guardian 28 March 2015
Sri Lanka's prime minister tells Bishop of Jaffna to be patient
The Bishop of Jaffna called on Sri Lanka's new government to take action on re-building homes for the displaced, rebuilding destroyed places of religious worship, resolving the issues of Tamil fisherman and an answer to the calls of families of the disappeared.

Responding to Bishop Thomas Sountharanayagam's, Sri Lanka's prime minister, asked the bishop to "be patient."

"Please be patient. We cannot bring a solution immediately, but give us more time and we will resolve the people's problems," Mr Wickremasinghe
said, calling for time and space.

Tamil Guardian 28 March 2015
'North and south still divided'
Writing in the LA Times on Saturday following a visit to the island and road-trip along the A9, the American journalist Shashank Bengali said the North and South was still divided after the civil war.

See here for full article. Extract reproduced below:
"Occasionally I would see the Sinhalese tour buses parked along the roadside, or Sinhalese families picnicking in the shade of a tree. In Kilinochchi, the Tigers' former capital, several buses were stopped next to what looked like a giant funnel tipped onto its side.

It was a water tank that had been toppled during the fighting, the steel rebar reaching out from the concrete husk like tentacles. The government had turned it into a war memorial, planting a tidy garden with flowers and a large stone tablet declaring that the damage had been done by rebel "terrorists in the face of valiant troops."


Tamil Guardian 28 March 2015
Sri Lanka seeks to regain GSP+
Sri Lanka held talks with a delegation from the EU Trade Working Group this week in Colombo, aimed at regaining the preferential trade tariff, GSP plus, the Sri Lankan government said.

"Sri Lanka and the EU discussed issues related to promoting bilateral trade and investment. In particular they started the process that may lead to the re-admission of Sri Lanka to the status of GSP+ under the European Union’s new GSP regulation. They also discussed bilateral matters related to investment facilities, import duties and fishery exports from Sri Lanka to the EU," read a joint statement issued after the discussions which took place on March 24.


Tamil Guardian 28 March 2015
EU re-imposes LTTE ban says Sri Lanka
The Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister said  on Saturday  that the European Union had re-imposed the ban on the LTTE due to intervention by the Sri Lankan government.

Ajith Perera said that that prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had written to the EU to reconsider the ban on the LTTE.

The General Court of the European Union last year took the decision to repeal measures taken by the Council of the European Union to designate the LTTE as a terrorist organisation in the EU.

EU will have to rethink 'flawed' proscription of LTTE says ECJ lawyer (19 October 2014)
Tamil Guardian 28 March 2015
Jeyakumari reunited with daughter as court proceedings for detention release continue
The Tamil disappearances activist Jeyakumari Balendran, who was recently released from detention on bail, was reunited with her daughter on Friday.

A court in Kilinochichi called for Ms Balendran to be reunited with her daughter Vipoosika.

Ms Balendran's who released on bail after a years arbitrary detention, continues to have court proceedings in Colombo to finalise her release.

Tamil disappearances activist granted bail by Sri Lankan court (10 March 2015)
Tamil Guardian 27 March 2015
Sri Lanka denies Chinese claim Sirisena promised resumption of 'Port City'

The Sri Lankan government has contradicted China’s foreign ministry, who quoted President Sirisena as saying the Port City project would resume.

A Chinese foreign ministry official said on Thursday, the visiting president had “promised” the controversial project would resume once problems are “sorted out”.

"He (Sirisena) stressed that what happened around the port city in Colombo is rather temporary, and he said the problem does not lie with the Chinese side and hopes to continue with the project after things are sorted out," said Liu Jianchao, assistant minister of foreign affairs, according to Reuters.

However Sri Lanka’s Deputy External Affairs Minister Ajith P. Perera on Friday dismissed the statement, saying the Port City project was not even a subject of discussion, reported the Daily Mirror.

Tamil Guardian 27 March 2015
New US ambassador to Sri Lanka announced

US President Barack Obama on Friday announced his intent to nominate Atul Keshap to the post of Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

Mr Keshap will take over the role previously held by Michelle Sison, who is now 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.

The president’s nominee currently serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs at the Department of State, a position he has held since 2013, according to the White House.

Tamil Guardian 27 March 2015
Former Sri Lanka president will lead task force to identify needs of Tamil community
The former Sri Lankan president, Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga (CBK), has been appointed by prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to lead a special Presidential Task Force on Reconciliation (PTFR) to identify urgent reconciliatory needs of the Tamil community, reports Colombo Page.
Speaking from Temple Trees, Mr Wickremesinghe said that a “Secretariat on National Harmony” under the leadership of Kumaratunga had been declared open.
In the run up to presidential elections in January of this year, Ms Kumaratunga, siding with the common opposition, claimed that she had been the primary reason behind Sri Lanka’s military victory against the LTTE.
Sri Lankans find international investigation into atrocities insulting – CBK (15 March 2015)

Kumaratunga claims ‘75%’ of way victory (16 Dec 2014)
Tamil Guardian 27 March 2015
Sustained commitment needed to clarify fate of missing in Sri Lanka - Red Cross

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says it remains committed to their work in Sri Lanka and to providing assistance to vulnerable individuals, including detainees and families of missing persons.

The ICRC’s director of operations, Dominic Stillhart, who just returned from a visit to the island, said in an interview the organisation discussed a proposal to set up an independent process to clarify the fate of missing persons with the government, who received it “positively”.

“During the meetings in Sri Lanka, a proposal to set up an independent process to clarify the fate of missing persons was discussed and was positively received by government officials. This is a long-term effort that requires sustained political commitment,” Mr Stillhart said.

Tamil Guardian 26 March 2015
Difficult road on accountability and reconciliation in Sri Lanka says Biswal

The US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Nisha Biswal said whilst being encouraged by the new Sri Lankan government’s promises of reform, there remained tough challenges, including a difficult road ahead on accountability and reconciliation, as well as demilitarisation of the conflict affected areas.

Ms Biswal, who had visited Sri Lanka last month, made these comments before the US House Foreign Affairs Committee meeting on Tuesday, regarding the ‘US rebalance in South Asia: foreign aid and developmental priorities’.


Tamil Guardian 26 March 2015
'Concrete acts of co-operation' with OHCHR needed says Amnesty International
The Sri Lankan government must take “concrete” steps towards co-operating with the United Nations said Amnesty International in an address to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Thursday.

Calling the Sri Lankan government's commitment to prioritise engagement with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) “promising”, Amnesty International said “it needs to be backed by concrete acts of co-operation, including to determine truth and pursue justice for crimes under international law”.

“Amnesty International cannot stress enough the need for a thorough accounting and justice for the victims of violations and abuses in Sri Lanka,” said the organisation.

The non-governmental organisation continued to say it “strongly encourages Sri Lanka to use the time until the Council considers the OHCHR Inquiry report in September 2015 to take specific measures to improve its human rights situation.”


 International Affairs
Tamil Guardian 29 March 2015
Voting continues for second day in Nigeria

The Nigerian elections continued for a second day, after technical problems hit around 300 polling stations.

About 300 out of around 150,000 were affected by the glitch, which left voters, including President Goodluck Jonathan, unable to cast their vote.

"There should have been a test-run for a smaller election before deploying it for an election of this magnitude," said Mr Jonathan's presidential campaign spokesman Femi Fani-Kayode.

Polling stations were also hit by attacks from unknown gunmen.

However, Mr Jonathan told the BBC's Peter Okwoche that most of the violence in Gombe was not directly related to the elections.

"The war against terrorists is going on, voting or no voting," he said. "There was a conflict, kind of a crossfire, between soldiers and terrorists that had nothing to do with the elections."

Tamil Guardian 29 March 2015
Nuclear talks with Iran enter final stages

Talks with Iran on its nuclear programme are intensifying as the deadline for a deal at the end of the month draws close.

The talks, attended by Iran and the P5+1 group, the US, China, Russia, France, the UK and Germany, are intended to seek a deal to prevent Iran from seeking a nuclear agreement.

The US Secretary of State John Kerry and his German and French counterparts have cancelled their travel plans for the last few days of the talks, in order to push for a resolution ahead of the March 31 deadline.

Iran, which denies it is pursuing nuclear weapons, is hoping to achieve the lifting of international sanctions through a deal.

US officials said all parties, including Iran, had agreed "there needs to be a phased step by step reciprocal approach", so that Iran's steps to scale back its nuclear programme are met with a phased lifting of sanctions, the BBC said.

Tamil Guardian 28 March 2015
Idlib captured by Syrian rebels

Syrian rebels captured the key Syrian city of Idlib from government forces, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The monitoring group said that the Ahrar al-Sham, Jund al-Aqsa and Nusra Front groups had taken the city on Saturday.

The Syrian government has not confirmed the loss, with state television saying, "The army is fighting fierce battles to restore the situation back to what it was."

The capture of the strategically important city would be a serious blow to President Bashar al-Assad's government.

Tamil Guardian 28 March 2015
Libya calls for lift of UN arms embargo
The Libyan government made fresh calls for a UN arms embargo on the country to be lifted as a measure to help combat the advance of Islamic State militants in the region.

Speaking at an Arab a meeting of the Arab League leaders in Egypt on Saturday, the president of Libya’s internationally recognised parliament, Aquila Saleh, said,

“Those who oppose or delay the arming of the Libyan army that you are giving an opportunity to Daesh terrorists to flourish in Libya and not spread beyond it.”

Egypt, which has already led airstrikes on Islamic State militant targets in Libya, has also been leading call to lift the arms embargo on Libya, reports Reuters.
Tamil Guardian 28 March 2015
UN diplomats evacuate Yemen as Saudi Arabia intervenes
United Nations staff were pulled out from Yemen on Saturday after a third day of Saudi-led air strikes to tackle advances of Houthi militants left the area inhabitable.

Saudi Arabia’s navy evacuated dozens of diplomats from the region amidst attempts to quash the advances of Iranian allied Shi’ite Houthi fighters, reports Reuters.

A total of eighty-six diplomats and Saudi nationals were shipped out of Yemen through the Red Sea.

The director general of Yemen’s Health Ministry, al-Khadher Laswar, reported over 68 people dead and 452 wounded since Wednesday.
Tamil Guardian 28 March 2015
Nigerian voters killed by Boko Haram attacks
Boko Haram militants killed 6 people in two separate attacks on Nigerian voters on Saturday.

Gunmen opened fire on voters as they made their way into polling stations, reports Channel 4 news.

One polling station was hit by a bomb, whilst in a separate incident, a Nigerian soldier was killed in an ambush by the militants.

The current president Goodluck Jonathan, has faced strong criticism over his inability to tackle Boko-Haram militants and curtail the organisation's rising militancy.
Tamil Guardian 27 March 2015
Boko Haram head quarters retaken by Nigerian army

Nigeria’s army announced it has recaptured the town of Gwoza, thought to be the headquarters of Boko Haram.

The group have suffered a serious of setbacks in recent months and have lost a large amount of the territory it held since Nigeria's neighbours, Cameroon, Chad and Niger sent troops to help it earlier this year.

"These successful operations have culminated in the dislodgment of terrorists from towns and communities in Adamawa, Yobe and Borno states," military spokesperson Chris Olukolade said.

A lot of arms and ammunition were recovered and "a massive cordon and search has commenced to locate any of the fleeing terrorists or hostages in their custody", he added.

Tamil Guardian 26 March 2015
Global asylum claims in industrialized countries rise 45% in 2014
In their annual report on asylum claims in 44 industrialized countries released today, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) found that the number of asylum claims globally rose by 45% from 2013 to 2014.

There were approximately 866,000 asylum claims filed in 2014 - the second highest figure since the early 1980s when the UNHCR started systemically collecting statistics.

The report explains the overall increase as the result of, “[a] combination of armed conflict, deterioration of security or humanitarian situation and human rights concerns in a number of countries – notably the Syrian Arab Republic.” Syria went from being ranked 20th as a source of asylum-seekers in 2010, to 1st in 2013 and 2014.


Tamil Guardian 26 March 2015
Chadian policemen sentenced to life for torture

Seven former policemen in Chad have been sentenced to life imprisonment for torture, in the first trial of former president Hissene Habre's accomplices.

Under Mr Habre's rule from 1982 to 1990 thousands of people are thought to have been killed and tortured. He is currently being held in Senegal awaiting a war crimes trial.

The men policemen sentenced include Mahamat Djibrine, described by investigators as one of the "most feared torturers in Chad", and Saleh Younouss, a former senior official in Mr Habre's notorious Directorate of Documentation and Security Directorate (DDS).

"Finally, finally, the men who brutalised us and then laughed in our faces for decades have got their comeuppance," Clement Abaifouta, an ex-political prisoner who now heads an association for Habre's victims, is quoted by Reuters.

Tamil Guardian 26 March 2015
Saudi Arabia leads air strikes against Houthi rebels as President Hadi flees

The Saudi air force has led air attacks on Houthi rebels in Yemen, as Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi left the country and arrived in Riyadh.

Iran has described the air strikes as "dangerous", while Saudi Arabia said it was "defending the legitimate government" of President Hadi.

Reports say at least 13 civilians died in air strikes in the capital Sanaa.

On Wednesday, the Saudi ambassador to the US, Adel al-Jubair, announced the beginning of the air strikes.

Tamil Guardian 26 March 2015
OHCHR highlights 'obligation to prosecute' after investigations into disappeared persons
The Chief of Rule of Law, Equality and Non-Discrimination of the OHCHR highlighted the obligation to persecute violations of international humanitarian law at an event presenting the ‘Good practice guide for the use of forensic genetics in investigations into human rights and international humanitarian law violations’ at the UN Human Rights Council on Wednesday.

Panellists at the event included the Permanent Representative of Argentina (H.E. Ambassador Alberto D’Alotto), the Deputy Head of Operations of ICRC (Christophe Martin), the Chief of Rule of Law, Equality and Non-Discrimination of the OHCHR (Mona Rishmawi), along with several experts on forensic genetics involved in the drafting process.

In her presentation Ms Rishmawi made clear that states have an obligation under international human rights law and international humanitarian law to investigate gross violations of human rights, of which enforced disappearances is one. She said that this obligation to investigate was “very closely tied” to the “obligation to prosecute” and “the right to truth” and that the right to truth included the right to know what happened to the person, the circumstances under which the disappearance occurred, the gross violations of rights, the status of progress made, results of identification processes, and the identity of perpetrators.


Tamil Guardian 25 March 2015
Human Rights Watch launches 'Votes Count' website monitoring countries’ voting record at Human Rights Council
Human Rights Watch launched a new website, ‘Votes Count’ to monitor and make available countries’ voting records on issues concerning international human rights violations.

The website looks at the voting record of countries in the Human Rights Council (those that have been members since 2012) and also provides an analysis of their contribution to addressing human rights violations on the ground and in particular countries.

Julie de Rivero, the Geneva director at Human Right Watch said in a press release announcing the project,
“In the past, governments have been shielded by the distance between Geneva and their capitals, and the belief that few observers monitor the positions they take” and that ‘Votes Count’, “gives citizens and journalists access to monitor and act on their governments’ performance.”
Human Rights Watch noted that the project was being launched ahead of a few closely watched resolutions, including an investigation into mass atrocities in Sri Lanka.

See the full press release here.
Tamil Guardian 25 March 2015
US supports Iraqi controlled forces and militia with airstrikes
A US led coalition of warplanes launched their first airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq, in collaboration with Iraqi forces working with Iran backed militia on the ground, reports Reuters.

The decision to support the campaign to take Tikrit back forms the biggest collaboration between Iraqi forces, militia and the US in the fight against Islamic state militants to date.

A senior US commander, General James Terry said the strikes by the US Led coalition were intended to aid, “Iraqi forces under Iraqi command.”
Tamil Guardian 24 March 2015
US slows military withdrawal from Afghanistan
US President Barack Obama on Tuesday approved requests by the Afghan government to slow down the removal of US troops from Afghanisatan, reports Reuters.

Speaking at a joint news conference with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Barack Obama said,

“It was my assessment as commander in chief that it made sense for us to provide a few extra months for us to be able to help on things like logistics.”

Ghani expressed gratitude to the US military that died fighting the Taliban, adding that they “must not die in vain” and “leave a behind a legacy of a stable Afghanistan.”
Tamil Guardian 24 March 2015
India overturns controversial social media expression law

The Indian Supreme Court has overruled a controversial law which enabled the prosecution of people for comments on social media networks.

The Supreme Court decided section 66A of the Information Technology Act was unconstitutional.

"Section 66A is unconstitutional and we have no hesitation in striking it down," news agency AFP quoted Justice RF Nariman as saying in court.

"The public's right to know is directly affected by section 66A," he said.

The law was challenged after two women were arrested for posting and liking a comment on Facebook, criticising the response of Hindu fundamentalist politician Raj Thackeray.

See more on the BBC here.

Tamil Guardian 24 March 2015
Canada to extend air strikes against ISIS to Syria

The Canadian government has announced it will extend its airstrikes against ISIS into Syrian territory.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Canada would not seek "express consent" of the Syrian regime.

"Instead, we will work closely with our American and other allies, who have already been carrying out such operations against ISIL over Syria in recent months."

"The government recognises that ISIL's power base, indeed the so-called caliphate's capital, is in Syria," Mr Harper said in the House of Commons.

Tamil Guardian 24 March 2015
'Two states is the best path forward' says US President Obama on Israel-Palestine
US President Barack Obama reiterated his support for a two state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, where he criticised comments made by the newly re-elected Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

During a joint press conference with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Tuesday, Mr Obama said,
“Prime Minister Netanyahu in the election run-up stated that the Palestinian state would not occur while he was Prime Minister and I took him at his word that that’s what he meant and I think that a lot of voters inside of Israel understood him to be saying that fairly unequivocally. Afterwards he pointed out that he didn’t say never but that there would be a series of conditions in which a Palestinian state could potentially be created but of course the conditions were such that they would be impossible to meet anytime soon.”
He emphasized that the issue would cause difficulties of policy between the States and Israel going forward, saying,
“We believe that two states is the best path forward for Israel’s security for Palestinian aspirations and for regional stability. That’s our view and that continues to be our view and Prime Minister Netanyahu has a different approach and so this can’t be reduced to a matter of somehow let’s all hold hands and sing kumbaya. This is a matter of figuring out how do we get through a real knotty policy difference that has great consequences for both countries and for the region.”
See the full video of the press conference here.
Tamil Guardian 24 March 2015
Yemen's foreign minister calls for Gulf state intervention

The foreign minister of Yemen Riad Yassin called on Gulf Arab states to intervene in the halting the Houthi rebel offensive.

The call comes a day after President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, who was ousted from the capital Sanaa last month, pleaded for UN intervention as the Houthi forces captured the strategic town of Taiz.

The foreign minister told the Saudi-owned Asharq al-Awsat newspaper he asked the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to intervene, without detailing what that would mean.

Saudi Arabia on Monday warned Gulf states could take action to support the president.

"If this issue is not solved peacefully, we will take the necessary measures to protect the region from their aggression," said Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal.

Demanding demilitarisation
Awaiting Justice
New Crossroad?
'North and south still divided'
Sri Lanka must seize this window of opportunity - David Cameron
Will Sri Lanka's new president be held to international standards of justice?
Thousands protest in Jaffna rejecting domestic probe, demanding release of UN report
Continuing militarisation of Tamil school children across North-East
Human Rights Council gives Sri Lanka 6 months to cooperate with UN inquiry
  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

Print Editions


Contact Tamil Guardian