Sri Lanka risks forced war crimes probe, US warns

Sri Lanka could be hauled before a war crimes tribunal over the killing of “many thousands of civilians” in the final months in 2009 of its armed conflict. The warning by US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, Robert Blake, came in an interview with AFP Monday. See AFP’s report here . It was “preferable” for Sri Lanka to have its own investigation in line with internationally accepted human rights standards, rather than face an external inquiry, Mr. Blake said. "[However] it's important to say that if Sri Lanka is not willing to meet international standards...

Unsurprising

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) was quoted Sunday as saying the party was hopeful of reaching an understanding on power sharing with the Sri Lankan government at talks this week. See the Sunday Times report here However, another Sunday Times story then quoted the TNA saying that the talks had been “postponed indefinitely”. Apparently, the Sri Lankan ministers concerned are now involved in local government election campaigns and thus would not be available for talks. See the report here . Recall the saying ‘Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me’?

Views from the A9: Vanni and Jaffna

See WSWS's photo gallery here , taken on the once heavily fought for A9 highway through Vanni to Jaffna. Despite the end of the war, foreigners need permission to visit the Vanni region, once home to 300,000 Tamils, all of whom were displaced in Sri Lanka's onslaught. The UN says 160,000 houses in Vanni were destroyed or damaged in the final phase of the war (2006-9). None have been rebuilt. Most of the 'resettled' live in tents or fragile shacks. Some people struggle to make a living through rickety tea stalls for travellers - but have to compete against the Army's. See also our earlier...

Parvathi Amma

Whilst Sri Lanka and its international allies labour to present an image of emerging 'post-conflict' normalcy - and even of 'reconciliation' in the offing - events in Jaffna this week made clear the country's future is exactly the reverse. The military's desecration of the ashes of LTTE leader Vellupillai Pirapaharan's mother, and its anxious, violent efforts in preceding days to prevent public mourning of her death underline not only the popular sentiment amongst Tamils, but the state's unshakable insecurity. In short, the seventy-year long antagonism between the Sinhala ethnocracy and the Tamil people will endure and grow. This is not a matter of ancient hatreds, but of state policy and the politics to come.

Freudian

“ Sixes hit (by Sri Lankans) shatter the roof of the English palace and things in it tumble .” - verse from Sri Lanka’s official song for the cricket World Cup. Well after the start of the cricket World Cup, President Mahinda Rajapaksa Wednesday ordered his country’s official song to be taken off air. Rajapaksa told reporters he was displeased with its contents because it insults foreign teams. See Canadian Press’s report here and AFP's here . Apart from the verse about England above, the song warns that Australians will end up as bird food while New Zealanders, still reeling from the...

Meeting of minds

Sri Lankan state media's reports on (above) President Rajapaksa at Libya's celebration in 2009 of the 40th anniversary of the 'Great September Revolution' and (below) Sri Lankan troops in the parade.

Why foreign investment in Sri Lanka is slow

“In the one and a half year period [since the end of the war] there has not been evidence of higher foreign direct investment, in fact foreign direct investment has declined rather than increased . “ Despite the IMF and World Bank giving favourable assessments of the economy, … the international investment community does not appear to consider Sri Lanka a favourable destination for investment .” See here an analysis this week by the SundayTimes’ Nimal Sanderatne of the possible reasons why. Also, see our earlier posts: ‘ The limits of possibility ’ (Jan 2011) ‘ Doubts over Sri Lanka's pledges...

Sampur: suffering and sophism

When Sri Lanka resumed its war against the Tamil Tigers in mid 2006, the first offensives were directed at Sampur and nearby areas in Trincomalee district. Over 40,000 Tamil civilians were driven from their homes , which were razed to the ground . The vast majority remain displaced. President Rajapaksa hailed the capture. Sri Lanka then pledged the land in Sampur to India to build a power-station on it, and designated it another 'High Security Zone' . Delhi was a strong backer of Sri Lanka’s military campaign, and the power station project has long been billed as a major milestone in...

Sri Lanka blames universities for chronic graduate unemployment

Sri Lanka's Ministry of Higher Education has brought in new measures to make universities responsible for ensuring their graduates can be 'guaranteed' to get jobs anywhere in the world. See report here . “If they cannot accomplish this what is the use of having such universities?" Secretary to the ministry Sunil Jayantha Navaratne argues. Needing to spell out the obvious, Dinidu Hennayake, convenor of the Joint Union of Unemployed Graduates, says: "Nowhere in the world has a university's academic staff been held responsible for its graduates being unemployed. We see this as a move to palm off...

IMF says Sri Lanka following instructions

“The [Sri Lankan] authorities continue to execute policies in line with the IMF programme's goals” - Brian Aitken, head of IMF review mission, Feb 18. See reports by LBO , The Island and the state-owned Daily News . Interestingly, the IMF said again this week that there was no “demand driven” inflation of food prices in Sri Lanka. But see this analysis by LBO of Sri Lanka's food insecurity . See also our earlier posts, ' Sri Lanka taking its medicine - IMF ' (Dec 2010) ' Food for Thought ' (Nov 2010)

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