Arbitrary and deadly

In April, Sri Lanka’s cash-strapped government suddenly raised taxes on imported cars – from 95% to 120%. The overnight raise drew this comment from ‘fp’, a reader of Lanka Business Online: “No warning will be given. An arbitrary state essentially operates by making the lives of citizens uncertain and making it difficult to plan long term. “No public consultation, no warning nothing. Midnight gazette. You wake up find find out that the state has pulled the rug out from under you. “Remember you are viewed as an object for taxation by the state. The ruling classes themselves get tax free cars...

The first step should be international investigation

"The video showing summary executions during the final days of Sri Lanka's war in May 2009 provides clear-cut evidence of war crimes. " Beyond what is evident in the video, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has gathered information on the likely time and place of the executions, the identity of one of the victims, and the specific army unit likely to have been involved . “ The need for a criminal investigation is obvious, yet the Sri Lankan government has refused to conduct one, even when confronted by such disturbing footage. "In fact, the Sri Lankan government has increasingly made it clear that it...

The ‘normalcy’ in Tamil areas

President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s militarized rule of Sri Lanka’s Tamil areas is so severe, even Sinhala nationalist parties opposed to the government are finding it difficult. The JVP (Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna) said Friday that what the military’s photographing and registering of the residents was similar to what Israel was doing to the Palestinian residents of Gaza and West Bank. See the Daily Mirror’s report here . The government, JVP General Secretary Tilvin Silva told a news conference, was creating a fear psychosis. This is what the island’s main Tamil party, the TNA (Tamil Nationalist...

‘Why save me to send me to die?’

" I tried to die. That was better for me. But then I found that I was being revived so that I can be killed by torture in Sri Lanka. I don't feel any animosity towards anyone but I cannot understand why the British authorities saved my life only to send me back to where I would be killed. " - Nagendrarajah Suthakaran , an asylum seeker who attempted suicide to avoid being deported to Sri Lanka by Britain. His temporary reprieve came literally at the very last minute – he was taken off the flight for Colombo before it left. See his interview with Channel 4 here . Another 42, however, were not...

UK weapons and Sri Lanka’s war crimes against Tamils

During 2009, even as 40,000 Tamil civilians were being systematically killed by the Sri Lankan military, the UK government approved arms sales worth £700,000 to Sri Lanka. Even after Sri Lanka declared victory, and the war over, the UK government approved sales of arms to £1,000,000 The UK based, Campaign Against Arms Trade group, drawing attention to the UK's direct role in providing alleged war criminals with the equipment needed to bomb homes, hospitals and schools, reiterated that the UK's approval of these arms exports took place despite the UK government's knowledge of the situation on...

'UK has Tamil blood on its hands'

The emergence of new evidence of war crimes against Tamil civilians has led to questions on Britain's tacit backing of the Sri Lankan government. Speaking in the House of Commons against the deportation of Tamil refugees to Sri Lanka, opposition (Labour) MP Siobhain McDonagh said the UK government had Tamil blood on its hands. McDonagh condemned the continuing deportations of Tamil refugees to Sri Lanka, referring to the persistent reports torture and extra-judicial killings there. "There is evidence of continuing abuse against Tamils, including torture and extra-judicial killings. The...

Sri Lanka ‘taking all possible action to exterminate [the Tamils]’

“Though Sri Lanka became independent, the Tamils living in that country were struggling for many years against the injustice of being treated as second class citizens. “ Instead of appreciating the justness of their demand and ensuring that Tamils in Sri Lanka lead a life of dignity, with equal rights and self-respect through necessary Constitutional Amendments, the Sri Lankan Government was taking all possible action to exterminate them.” See here the full text of the Memorandum submitted by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Selvi J. Jayalalithaa to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on June 15,...

Atherton: Tamils’ plight must prick English consciences

Cricket commentator and former England captain Mike Atherton wrote in The Times Thursday: “Throughout Sri Lanka’s tour to England, a small and dedicated band of Tamil protesters have done their best to raise awareness of the persecution that members of this minority have suffered and continue to suffer in their homeland. “They were at the Sri Lankans’ opening match, at Uxbridge , and at the Test matches at Cardiff and Lord’s . By and large, it is a voice that has been ignored. “Channel 4’s distressing documentary on Tuesday evening that highlighted the systematic killing, torture and sexual...

US State Department on human rights in Sri Lanka:

“The government and its agents continued to be responsible for serious human rights problems . “ Security forces committed arbitrary and unlawful killings ... Disappearances continued to be a problem ... Many independent observers cited a continued climate of fear among minority populations ... Security forces tortured and abused detainees ; poor prison conditions remained a problem; and authorities arbitrarily arrested and detained citizens . “ Discrimination against … the ethnic Tamil minority continued, and a disproportionate number of victims of human rights violations were Tamils . “...

Why not Sri Lanka?

“The targeting of civilians is a war crime. If proved, these charges go right up the chain of command of Sri Lanka’s military and government. If Iran stands condemned for killing hundreds in the wake of the June 2009 election, if Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic now face justice in The Hague, if Bashar al-Assad faces UN sanctions for an assault that has killed 1,300 Syrians, how it is that President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his brother, the defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, escape all censure, after over 40,000 civilians were killed?” - The Guardian newspaper’s editorial on June 15. See the...

Pages