IMF urges Sri Lanka to stop delaying trade deal with India

The IMF this week urged Sri Lanka to sign the trade deal with India that has been held up by Sinhala nationalist commercial interests allied with the Colombo government. The CEPA (Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement) between India and Sri Lanka has been under negotiation since 2005. It was supposed to be signed in 2008 . Although the agreement has been largely finalized , President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government has been dragging its feet. In an effort to get the deal through, last month India agreed to renegotiate aspects of the agreement. But getting a new deal may take all year,...

On International Women’s Day ...

On International Women’s Day (March 8), the Global Tamil Women Forum (GTWF) appealed to international governments, parliamentarians, institutions and human rights defenders over the plight of Tamil women in Sri Lanka. The appeal urged the international community to ensure: “An international, independent war crimes investigation to be established, “The facilitation of adequate witness protection so that the perpetrators of such crimes can be held accountable for their actions. “The immediate release of those who remain in arbitrary detention, and “Full access to be granted to International...

Hidden Victims

“Our failure to acknowledge male rape leaves it in the shadows, compounding the humiliation that survivors experience. For instance, the majority of Tamil males in Sri Lanka who were sexually assaulted during that country’s long civil war did not report it to the authorities at the time, later explaining that they were simply too ashamed. “ The International Criminal Court , nearly all American states and many countries use a sex-neutral definition of sexual assault . The United Nations and the White House must likewise move beyond the shortcomings of Resolution 1325 and commit to ending...

Taking ownership?

Amongst the changes to atttract foreign investment, Sri Lanka is to abolish its standard tool for this – long tax holidays for those prepared to invest. Sarath Amunugama, senior minister for international monetary co-operation, says it’s his idea: “I was the chairman of a committee to look into this and we have suggested drastic changes and one is to abolish tax concessions given under the Board of Investments (BOI).” See LBO's report here . But three weeks ago, it was the IMF that was arguing for this. As the IMF’s resident representative in Colombo Koshy Mathai put it, "Rather than having...

US senate backs international war crimes probe

(File photo) Fifty three school girls were killed, along with three staff, on August 14, 2006, when Sri Lankan air force jets dropped sixteen bombs on an orphanage in Vanni. The GPS coordinates of the orphanage and other civilian establishments in Vanni, including hospitals, had been provided to Colombo via the International Red Cross. All the hospitals and many other listed sites were subsequently bombed or shelled by Sri Lankan forces. Photo TamilNet. The US Senate on Monday was unanimous in passing a resolution calling for an international investigation into war crimes in Sri Lanka. The...

India should back UN panel on Sri Lanka's war crimes - HRW

“The brutal attacks on fishermen who stray into Sri Lankan waters has given ordinary Indians a brief glimpse of the lack of accountability of Sri Lanka's security forces, and the unresponsiveness of the Rajapakse government to serious abuses. “The Indian government was right to condemn the murder of its own citizens, and demand an investigation. But it also should ensure justice for Sri Lankan victims. When the UN panel of experts submits its report next month, it will be important to have the Indian government standing behind them .” “ India should take the lead in demanding that the full...

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.

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