Tamil activists in the UK have joined organisers of the 'Boycott Sri Lanka Cricket' campaign in calling for calm at today's protest in Cardiff and condemning any suggestion of retaliatory violence or 'revenge'.
In a statement released yesterday British Tamils Forum said:
"There are real concerns for the safety of Tamil campaigners at the forthcoming India-Sri Lanka match, to be held in Cardiff tomorrow, Thursday 20 June. In the face of these concerns, British Tamils Forum urges those attending the demonstration tomorrow to display the same courage, dignity and restraint shown by the Tamil campaigners who were attacked on Monday night."
"The Sri Lankan fans – through their violence, racism and triumphalism – have demonstrated precisely why the international cricket community must boycott Sri Lankan cricket: to send Sinhalese society and the Sri Lankan State a clear message that their behaviour towards Tamils, both in Sri Lanka and around the world, will no longer be tolerated by the international community."
"In contrast, the Tamil victims of the violence showed dignity and courage on Monday – standing up to these thugs without rising to their provocation."
"We hope campaigners tomorrow will mirror the courage and restraint shown by those who were attacked on Monday ."
On Wednesday speaking to Tamil Guardian, one of the campaign organisers, Thusiyan warned against revenge violence.
The Secretary to the Sri Lankan President, Lalith Weeratunge has claimed that the people of Jaffna have made “fervent appeals” to keep the army on the peninsula.
“Many lands have been returned, and ones that are needed for public purposes will be retained. The HSZ has shrunk by almost 60%. Many peace loving residents of Jaffna have made fervent appeals to retain the Armed Forces because of their post conflict welfare activities,” Weeratunga said in a Twitter interview today.
When asked about the implementation of the 13th Amendment of the Sri Lankan constitution, he said it was no secret that “administratively it is a white elephant”.
Weeratunga ignored several pertinent questions on topics such as human rights, accountability and landgrabs, asked by journalists and activists, but chose to answer questions about PayPal and Rajapakse, calling him a “visionary leader”.
He also supported Gothabaya’s recent comments calling social media a threat to national security, saying that it has been used for “destructive purposes” elsewhere.
"The Prime Minister conveyed to the TNA delegation that he was dismayed by reports suggesting that the Government of Sri Lanka planned to dilute certain key provisions of the 13th Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution ahead of elections to the Northern Provincial Council. It was noted that the proposed changes raised doubts about the commitments made by the Sri Lankan Government to India and the international community, including the United Nations, on a political settlement in Sri Lanka that would go beyond the 13th Amendment. The changes would also be incompatible with the recommendation of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), set up by the Government of Sri Lanka, calling for a political settlement based on the devolution of power to the provinces.
The Prime Minister stated that he was deeply concerned about the welfare and wellbeing of the Tamil community in Sri Lanka. He stressed on the expectation that the Sri Lankan Tamil community would lead a life of dignity, as equal citizens, and reiterated that India would make every effort to ensure the achievement of a future for the community marked by equality, justice and self-respect.”
University Tamil societies from across the UK have released a statement condemning the racist attacks outside the Oval on Monday.
21 Tamil societies joined together to denounce the attacks and commend the peaceful campaign of the activists, while questioning the lack of response from police forces to assaults.
"We the British Tamil youth are shocked by such racially motivated attacks and the malicious and spiteful slogans such as "F*** Tamils” and other expletives hurled at the peaceful men and women, several of whom sustained injuries from the incident. At this time we commend the Tamil activists caught up in the violence, for remaining steadfast in their purpose as peaceful campaigners even in the face of such violence and abuse."
The British Council will hold a global education forum in Colombo, with attendees from several countries coming together to discuss international higher education issues.
“Global education dialogues are organised around the world to bring together key policy-makers and influences so that they can reflect on and debate the challenges and opportunities facing international higher education,” the British Council said in a statement.
Over 100 participants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, the UAE and the UK are expected to attend.
Sri Lanka as a venue for international events is already being heavily criticised, over its hosting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in November, with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper threatening to boycott the event.
More photos and videos have emerged of the violence in London yesterday, as Sri Lankan cricket fans hurled racist abuse and attacked Tamil activists who were campaigning outside the Oval cricket stadium.
The video below was sent to Tamil Guardian by an activist, which shows Tamil activists being beaten and dragged into the road by a mob of Sri Lanka cricket fans.
The Sri Lanka fans hurled racist abuse at the Tamils, with police struggling to cope as hundreds more swarmed around the small group of activists.
See more photos of Sri Lanka cricket fans attacking Tamils, as an elderly Tamil man and child take cover on TamilWin here.
The cricket fans were screaming "F*** Tamils!" and "One nation!" as police reinforcements arrived and attempted to herd the Sri Lankan fans away from the Tamils. Bottles and rocks were then launched towards the 20 or so activists, as the Sri Lankan fans continued to chant.
TNA's Batticaloa MPs have complained that hundreds of Sinhalese families, unaffected by the war, will benefit from the Indian housing project in the East while displaced Tamils are ignored.
Speaking to the Indian Express, Ariyenthiran MP said that the TNA were not against housing being allocated to Sinhalese or Muslims but that they opposed the inclusion of families that were not displaced.
Ariyenthiran was joined by Yogesvaran and Selvarasa in raising concerns about the neglect of the housing needs of thousands of displaced Tamils, accusing India of indirectly encouraging Sinhala colonisation of the Tamil homeland.
The Secretary of the Ministry of External Affairs, Karunathilake Amunugama said that through the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, the 'correct image of Sri Lanka could be depicted to the international'.
The Secretary of Ministry of Mass Media and Information, Charath Herath, said that over 700 journalists would be visiting Sri Lanka this November, and 'it is expected to escort these journalists to different areas of the island to show the correct condition of Sri Lanka'.
Last week, the Defence Secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa asserted that 'LTTE-linked groups' had ensured that "despite the war having ended four years ago, the internal affairs of Sri Lanka have been kept at the forefront of the UNHRC’s Sessions as well as at the top of the agenda of several prominent international NGOs even in the recent past."
Writing in the Guardian's 'Comment is free' section, Emily Howie - a lawyer with the Human Rights Law Centre and a leebron fellow at Columbia university - said the new 'enhanced screening' is jeopardising Sri Lankan asylum claims, and described Australia's deportation of asylum seekers from Sri Lanka as "reckless".
See here for full opinion. Extract published below:
"Australia's practice of returning Sri Lankans is reckless. Not only does the country turn a blind eye to the harm that the they may face on return, it does so on the basis of a diminished understanding of individuals' claims for asylum and without adequate monitoring back in Sri Lanka."
Sri Lanka's Ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Ravinatha Aryasinha, has urged that more action be taken against “terrorist” activities in the diaspora, carried out under guises, such as religious, sport and youth organisations.
Aryasinhe was addressing the International Counter-Terrorism Focal Points Conference on 'Addressing Conditions Conducive to the Spread of Terrorism and Promoting Regional Cooperation' and said that front organisations increase the legitimacy of certain causes, where the “parent group” may already be discredited.
“Since the military defeat of the LTTE in Sri Lanka in May 2009, besides the radicalised activism of LTTE front organisations in several European capitals, and the arrest of 32 LTTE activists in Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland and the conviction of a further 28 in France, the Netherlands and Belgium, its known activists continue to advocate mono-ethnic separatism in Sri Lanka while espousing the ideology of the LTTE, using its money and being manipulated by its surviving military leaders, who are primarily domiciled in Europe” Aryasinhe said.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa takes photographs with Tamil schoolchildren in Kilinochchi. The 'people's president' according to Ambassador Bandula Jayasekara, Consul General of Sri Lanka in New South Wales, Australia...
A ceasefire deal has been signed in Mali with Tuareg separatist insurgents, allowing government troops to return to the last rebel-held town ahead of presidential elections next month.
Mali's minister of communication told the Guardian:
"This agreement is very important for the future Mali. It allows for the strengthening of the Malian state"
"But it is a preliminary agreement, and it is important to note that the agreement recognises the territorial integrity of Mali, and provides for disarmament of rebel groups. This is the in best interest of the nation."
The US has been forced to reverse its position on talks with the Taliban, just a day after announcing formal talks with the movement.
Anger from the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai at the presence of the white Taliban flag at the newly opened Doha office of the Taliban, and that the office was accredited to the "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan" - the name used when the Taliban held power - forced the US to say that it had "never confirmed" a meeting.
Karzai threatened to boycott the process unless Taliban militants put an end to their violence and the US pulls out of negotiations with the Taliban.
US Secretary of State John Kerry has been attempting to placate Karzai who also broke off security talks with Washington. Under pressure from the Qatar government the Taliban also removed the office sign and flag.
The United Nations said on Tuesday that 140,000 people remained displaced in Burma’s western Rakhine state, a year after the Buddhist-Muslim clashes left 200 people dead.
The United Nations report, outlined temporary progress made in restoring the livelihoods of Rohingya Muslims in the Rahkine state, describing the quantities of temporary shelters and latrines that had been built.
The report however warned that the stateless situation of 800,000 Muslims in the Rakhine state had to be addressed, as
“consequences of statelessness for Muslims in Rakine state continue to have direct effect on fundamental human rights and the social economic development of Burma.”
Though many of the Rohingya have lived in the Rakhine state for decades they are declined citizenship, and are subject to discriminatory government policy.
The UN report said consequential restrictions of access to freedom of movement have “ severely affected employment, and health and education rights.”
The new Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, has said he will make the country’s nuclear programme more transparent. Speaking at a news conference after his surprising victory, Rouhani said the sanctions on Iran were “unfair”.
Rouhani said his government would work towards "constructive interaction with the world", while thanking Iranians for "choosing moderation".
"Our nuclear programmes are completely transparent," Rouhani told media in Tehran.
"But we are ready to show greater transparency and make clear for the whole world that the steps of the Islamic Republic of Iran are completely within international frameworks."
"When a societal event breaks out in a region, our governors are responsible for restoring order and security. In such a case, they deploy firstly police forces, then gendarmeries. If the incidents become widespread, armed forces might be also called on the governor's order to establish peace."
Observers reacted with scepticism, with one blogger writing:
"And this coming from the same people who always claim they liberated Turkish democracy from army intervention."
The prospect of agreement on how to end the war in Syria looked grim at the G8 summit as Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin remained stiff in their diplomatic pleasantries.
Russian president Putin said:
"Of course, our opinions do not coincide. But all of us have the intention to stop the violence in Syria, to stop the growth of victims, and to solve the situation peacefully, including by bringing the parties to the negotiations table in Geneva."
Speaking after meeting, Obama said:
"With respect to Syria, we do have differing perspectives on the problem, but we share an interest in reducing the violence; securing chemical weapons and ensuring that they're neither used nor are they subject to proliferation; and that we want to try to resolve the issue through political means, if possible."
The US and Russia concluded the meeting with a joint statement affirming "their readiness to intensify bilateral cooperation based on the principles of mutual respect, equality, and genuine respect for each other's interests".
Speaking at a rally on Sunday of tens of thousands of government supporters on Sunday in Istanbul, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that it was his "duty" to evict the protesters from Istanbul Park.
Asserting that the two week protest had been manipulated by "terrorists", Erdogan rejected accusations of authoritarianism.
The Tamil Guardian's Ismail Okan Ukav was at a pro-government rally in Ankara on Saturday and sent us these photographs:
The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that international pressure on Iran to stop its nuclear programme must continue, after reformist Hassan Rouhani was elected president.
"The international community should not fall into wishful thinking and be tempted to ease pressure on Iran to stop its nuclear programme,
"Iran will be judged on its actions. If it insists on continuing to develop its nuclear programme the answer needs to be clear - stopping its nuclear programme by any means."
The US has said it could engage with the new president.
"If [Rouhani] lives up to his obligations under the UN Security Council resolutions to come clean on this illicit nuclear program, he will find a partner in us," White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough told media in the US.
This opinion by Suzanne Nozzel was published in Foreign Affairs on 5th June 2013.
As the first red-headed U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power will cut a distinctive figure in the organization’s staid meeting rooms and endless cocktail receptions. But she will also stand out in ways that go well beyond appearance. By virtue of her youth, professional background, philosophical commitments, and direct personal style, Power has the potential to be a uniquely effective U.S. envoy. By raising the UN’s visibility and cache, and by doubling down on its role as a force for human rights and the mediation of violent conflict, Power could be just what the United Nations needs to help galvanize it for the twenty-first century.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has dismissed assertions made by the US that Syria has used chemical weapons against rebels.
Lavrov said it made "no sense" for President Assad, who also denies the claims, to use chemical weapons as "the regime has not been driven into a corner".
The US meanwhile has decided to keep Patriot missiles and F-16s in Jordan, after recent training exercises. Lavrov criticised the decision, saying that any attempt to use the F-16s to impose a no-fly zone over Syria would violate international law.
At the UN Special Committee on Decolonisation on Wednesday, UN member states reiterated their support for the Saharawi's people's right to self-determination, including representatives from Venezuela, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Cuba.
Xavier Lasso from Ecuador said his country supported the 'legitimate aspiration of the Saharawi people' and called for an end to the "military occupation of this non-autonomous territory".
Hassan Rouhani, the sole reformist candidate in Iran’s presidential election, has won the presidential elections according to state-run Press TV.
The cleric and former nuclear negotiator with western powers enjoyed a surge in support the last week of campaign.
Though many view his election as the liberalisation of the Iranian public, Iranian affairs analyst, Rassol Nafisi, told the Associated Press,
“Rouhani is not an outsider and any gains by him do not mean the system is weak or that there are serious cracks. The ruling system has made sure that no one on the ballot is going to shake things up.”
Accordingto Human Rights Watch a new law passed by the Ecuadorian government seriously undermines free speech in the country.
The Communications Law that the Ecuadorian National Assembly approved on June 14 2013, includes discursive language that has a strong potential of limiting the free expression of journalists and media outlets.
Expressing concern over the new law, Americas director at Human Rights Watch, said,
“This law is yet another effort by President Correa to go after the independent media. The provisions and criminal prosecutions of journalists are clear attempts to silence criticism.”
See here for a full critical analysis of the new law.
The US has said it will provide arms to the Syrian opposition, after confirming that chemical weapons had been used by the regime.
"Following a deliberative review our intelligence community assesses that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons, including the nerve agent sarin, on a small scale against the opposition multiple times in the last year," said a White House statement.
Washington will supply small arms and training to the Syrian rebels, but voices within the Senate are calling for stronger support.
Senator John McCain said that “the president of the United States had better understand that just supplying weapons is not going to change the equation on the ground [or] the balance of power. These people – the Free Syrian Army – need weapons, heavy weapons to counter tanks and aircraft, they need a no-fly zone, and Bashar al-Assad's air assets have to be taken out and neutralised. We can do that without risking a single American airplane."
David Cameron meanwhile has stressed that Britain had not made a decision on arming the rebels.
"We have made no decision to arm the opposition but it was right to lift the arms embargo,
"We will continue to support, train and assist and work with the opposition. Of course there are concerns about some of the opposition, but my argument is this: If we don't engage with elements of the opposition and encourage those that do have a positive pluralistic and democratic view about the future of Syria, we won't be able to influence the shape of that opposition."