US State Dept: Lasting peace requires a durable political solution

Extracts from US Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert Blake ’s speech to the Asia Society on Monday: (s ee full text here , and video of the whole event here ) “[ Will] prosperity will bring lasting peace and healing in Sri Lanka? I think it’s an essential question to ask. After so many years of conflict, economic growth and improving livelihoods are certainly important for rebuilding the country. But I also believe that reconciliation has important political and social dimensions as well . “ Lasting peace requires a durable political solution. …Economic prosperity...

A Sinhala view of Jaffna

This is one of the pictures at a recent exhibition in London billed as the “first international showcase of Sri Lanka's leading contemporary artists since the end of the civil war in 2009”: The artist is Pala Pothupitiyie.

Rajapakse on ministers, terrorists and money

President Mahinda Rajapaksa this week grumbled that Western countries were refusing visas to Sri Lankan minister, but were issuing them to ‘terrorists’ – his word for Tamils who seek refuge abroad from his militarized rule. See The Sunday Leader’s report here “Some of these [Western] embassies even refused to grant visas to my ministers for official economic business, while they gave them to terrorists or suspected terrorists. All they need to say is that my government is persecuting them and claim refugee status,” he said. Responding to accusations of his government’s abuses, he said critics...

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...

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