Free to serve Sri Lanka, not free to go home

Parents of the 1800 alleged LTTE members, detained without charge by the Sri Lankan government and supposedly released last Friday, have informed BBC Tamil service , that they are yet to be united with their loved ones. According to the report, none of the 1800 detainees have been given permission by Sri Lankan authorities to go back to their parent's homes. See 'Rajapakse's self-congratulation' The supposed release of the 1800 detainees was marked with much pomp and ceremony. The event was attended by ambassadors from the US, India, UK and Australia. See 'Anger at Australian envoys role at...

Britain’s Labour Party backs international inquiry into Sri Lanka

Britain’s main opposition Labour Party has unequivocally called for an international commission to be set up to investigate the allegations of war crimes in Sri Lanka. Speaking at a 'Tamils for Labour' event on the sidelines of the Labour Party conference last week, Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander said the party's entire front bench was united on the view that Sri Lanka’s own inquiry, the LLRC, is not capable of holding an independent inquiry. Mr Alexander expressed the Labour Party’s disappointment with the UN Human Rights Council and the continued delay in addressing...

US court summons issued for Mahinda Rajapaksa

Mahinda Rajapaksa was served a US court summons on Friday, under the US Torture Victim's Protection Act for extrajudicial killings - a civil suit. The case was brought by three plaintiffs who allege that Rajapaksa held command responsibility for extrajudicial killings of Ragihar Manoharan, the son of plaintiff Dr. Kasippillai Manoharan; of Premas Anandarajah, a humanitarian aid worker for Action Against Hunger and the husband of plaintiff Kalaiselvi Lavan and four members of the Tevarajah family, all relatives of plaintiff Jeyakumar Aiyathurai. Rajapaksa has so far evaded a accepting a legal summons, by simply refusing or instructing his government officials, including the Minister for Justice, to refuse any official summons. In an unprecedented attempt to overcome this obstacle, US constituitional lawyer, Bruce Fein, has issued the summons via over 100 media outlets in Sri Lanka, social networking sites and the internet - so that it becomes impossible for Rajapaksa to plead ignorance of the summons issued for him. At the same time as issuing the summons, Fein, filed a motion in the US District Court for the District of Columbia, requesting Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly to authorise the novel method by which it has been issued.

Anger at Australian envoys role at Sri Lankan ceremony

The Australian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka has been criticised after handing out certificates to alleged Tamil rebels who went through two years of military led rehabilitation, The Age reports. Kathy Klugman took part in a much publicised ceremony, celebrating, what was termed as, the reintegration of 1800 former rebels, along with US ambassador Patricia Butenis, British High Commissioner John Rankin and Indian High Commissioner Ashok Kantha. The President of the International Commission of Jurists in Australia, John Dowd has slammed the move, accusing the Australian government of lending...

Government forestalls talks with TNA

Talks scheduled for Monday, between the TNA (Tamil National Alliance) and the Sri Lankan government, have once again been postponed, as government officials were reportedly too busy with local elections due to take place on the 8th October. The current round of talks resumed on the 16th September after several months of stalling. Internationally, these talks are considered crucial to addressing the legitimate grievances of Eelam Tamils. The United States in particular, have over the past two years reiterated to the Sri Lankan government that talks with the TNA on devolution are a crucial part...

Sri Lankan military expands commercial arm

The Sri Lankan Air Force has purchased two Xian MA 60 passenger aircraft from China, to be used as part of its growing domestic arm, Helitours. Reportedly purchased from the Chinese under a loan scheme, the aircraft will be used to provide domestic passenger flights across the island. Earlier this year, the Economist commented on the "creeping militarisation" in the country, in a piece entitled, "Sri Lanka's Army - In bigger barracks". “ A notable omission from the agenda was any initiative to pare back Sri Lanka’s now bloated armed forces. Instead, the government is finding new things for...

BBC correspondent on militarised North-East

Writing in Himal, the BBC correspondent, Charles Haviland shared his thoughts on his journey to the North-East. "Clusters of soldiers went by on tractors and, with extraordinary regularity, there were neat, manicured army camps and signs showing how northern Sri Lanka is divided up: Welcome to 66 Division, Welcome to 561 Brigade. For how much longer will the north remain essentially one huge garrison? For a lot longer, it seems ." [more]

Sinhala Buddhist monks attack Japanese Buddhist temple

Over 100 Sinhala Buddhist monks and supporters attacked a Japanese Buddhist Temple in Kollupitiya on Sunday, forcing worshippers to barricade themselves in for fear of assault. The Sinhala monks, followers of the Theravada sect of Buddhism, reportedly launched the attack to protect Sri Lanka from the Mahayana sect of Buddhism - the form practised at the Japanese temple. One worshipper who hid inside the temple as the Sinhala monks stormed the temple, said, “ The Buddhist monks forcibly entered the premises shouting out that we stop our prayer session. The monks said we should only have Theravada Buddhism in Sri Lanka and not Mahayana, ” Worshippers were trapped inside for over four hours before the police were able to free them and escort them to safety. In addition to the aggression exhibited by the protesters, the rescue operation was further hindered by five bhikkus who sat in front of the closed door and refused to permit the police to enter.

Commonwealth urged to act on human rights

A confidential report commissioned by the Commonwealth has called on the group to make essential reforms and uphold human rights in the organisation or they risk becoming irrelevant. The report, obtained by Reuters, was compiled by a 10-member Eminent Persons Group and is due to be presented at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth later this month. The 204-page report said, "As it is currently perceived, the Commonwealth is in danger of losing its relevance". See the report from Reuters here . Amongst the recommendations made was to appoint a commissioner to look into "...

Tamils gear up for Ontario general elections

With the 2011 Ontario general elections set to take place this week, the Canadian Tamil community looks set to hold considerable sway on the outcome, as candidates are in the height of campaigning for their votes. The elections, set to take place on Thursday the 6th of October, have given the Tamil community the opportunity to make their voice heard and it seems that the candidates have sat up and listened. See report from Digital Journal here . After the Canadian government’s lack of criticism of Sri Lanka’s war on the Vanni in 2009 and allegations of human rights violations and war crimes,...

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