Ban Ki-Moon must show leadership on Sri Lanka’s war crimes - Amnesty

These are comments by Amnesty International’s Sri Lanka researcher, Yolanda Foster, in an interview to Channel 4 News Saturday. “[The UN panel’s] report is a call for action because it highlights the scale and gravity of what happened in the final months of the war in Sri Lanka. “Amnesty believes an international independent investigation should be set up without further delay . “The panel’s report is very strong and it itself recommended an international investigation. “[Amnesty] is hoping that Ban Ki-Moon will show leadership and deliver on his promises of accountability and set up a...

100,000 missing in war's final months

Over 100,000 Tamil civilians remain unaccounted for after Sri Lanka’s onslaught in 2009 into the northern Vanni region, Channel 4 reported Saturday. Government census forms obtained by Channel 4 show 430,000 residents in Vanni in mid 2008. However internal UN documents also obtained by Channel 4 show only 290,000 people coming out of the final enclave overrun by the government’s troops and being put into its militarized internment camps. Only 60% of the original residents have returned to Vanni, a Channel 4 source who recently visited the still miliarised region, also said. Meanwhile, the UN...

Justice for the Trincomalee 5

This is Amnesty International’s film – ‘Sri Lanka, tell the truth’ - on the ongoing effort to secure justice for five Tamil students executed by the Sri Lankan armed forces in January 2006. The five students are: Manoharan Ragihar (22.09.1985) Yogarajah Hemachchandra (04.03.1985) Logitharajah Rohan (07.04.1985) Thangathurai Sivanantha (06.04.1985) Shanmugarajah Gajendran (16.09.1985) See links to TamilNet’s reports from the period here :

Indian Bank targets Tamil clients in Sri Lanka

The state-owned Indian Bank , headquartered in Chennai, is going to open three more branches in Sri Lanka in the coming months, following the newly opened one in Jaffna (see more here ). Chairman and managing director T.M. Bhasin said the bank’s focus is on those areas where they can easily find Tamil clientele. “ Tamil speaking people are particularly very inclined towards our bank and we are also very close to them . So, we want to venture in those areas where many Tamil people are living. In Sri Lanka, many Tamils are there and we have very good business,” he said. See the report in Sri...

Moving refugees is not smuggling

It’s not human smuggling if you’re essentially trying to get caught, says a lawyer for one of the Tamils who sought asylum in Canada after arriving by ship. Smuggling must entail clandestine and illegal entry, Rod Holloway argued to the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB). However, in the Tamils’ case, “The [passengers’] intention appears to have been to bring the ship to Canada and to report at a port of entry, not to try and enter Canada clandestinely . “What has happened in this case is not smuggling and the people involved should not be denied access to the refugee process when they came...

Extraordinarily Perverse

Canada’s decision to deport the 74-year old widow of assassinated Tamil parliamentarian Joseph Parajasingham on the grounds she is a member “by association” of the Liberation Tigers exemplifies the Kafkaesque logics of the country’s asylum policy as implemented by its Immigration and Refugee Board. In Canada, as in many Western states, asylum and immigration policy has long been controversial and marked by heated political and public debates. These have intensified amid the insecurities since the global financial crisis, and border agencies in many Western states are under intense pressure to stem immigration – and not just from developing countries. However some of the recent decisions made, and the logics put forward for these, by the IRB stand out as especially perverse.

Mahinda model

Boosted by an email campaign by his supporters, Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa is sixth in Time magazine’s poll of the 100 most influential people of 2011. (While polling for inclusion in the 100 is now closed, voting for ranking within the shortlist continues till April 21.) When the shortlisting closed, President Rajapaksa, whose regime is in international focus for its war crimes, had polled over 74,000 ‘yes’ votes and 21,000 ‘no’ votes. (See Time's reasons here for why he might be considered 'influential', something his fans might have missed.) That's more than seven times that...

Sri Lanka let India win - Rajapaksa

President Mahinda Rajapaksa fetes the Sri Lankan team at his home on April 4. Photos Sudath Silva Sri Lanka let India win the Cricket World Cup, President Mahinda Rajapaksa suggested to a reception welcoming back the team, echoing wild allegations that the players had deliberately performed below par. "I like to tell my Indian friends that 20 million from our small country, took a step back to allow 1.2 billion Indian people to enjoy some happiness, for the second time since 1983," he told attendees. See NDTV’s report here . Rajapaksa’s comments nearly caused a diplomatic storm across the Palk Straits - see Emirates 24/7’s report here on another development since India’s victory: Sri Lanka’s Sports Minister has ordered eleven Sri Lankan cricketers playing in the Indian Premier League (IPL) to return to prepare for the national team’s tour of England next month. This is despite their prior agreement with Sri Lanka cricket (SLC) that the players would complete their IPL contracts before joining the national team in Britain. (The IPL league concludes end May, the England tour begins mid-May). The IPL contracts are lucrative for both the players and SLC. As such, the Minister’s directive makes clear Sri Lanka’s players have to put the country before their professional careers. That the Sri Lankan team are seen as ambassadors of the country is underscored by the lavish reception in his home that President Rajapaksa gave the team. Flanked by his wife Shiranthi, Rajapaksa presented players with a 5,000 rupee gold coin and a pair of gold cufflinks encrusted with colourful stones. “You have done us proud,” Rajapaksa, a staunch Sinhala nationalist, told the players. See more pictures (by Sudath Silva) of the reception:

Sign of the Times

Why has Sri Lanka inaugurated an official timekeeping website? Because the site "will make it easier for people to follow astrological advice and do things at the correct auspicious time," Trade Ministry spokesman Nipuna Ekanayake said. The launch of was hardly auspicious, however. No sooner had President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s launched the site on Monday, when unexpected stormy weather caused it to crash. "Too many hits and lightning affected our server and the website went down," a spokesman for the site told AFP. See the report here .

US: Cooperation hampered by human rights record

Below is an extract from the testimony of Robert O. Blake, Jr., Assistant Secretary, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia. The full text of his prepared speech can be found here . Sri Lanka stands poised to be a capable and willing partner to effectively combat violent extremism, trafficking and piracy, and thereby help to ensure the maritime security of the region. But the Government’s worrisome record on human rights, weakening of democratic institutions and practices, and the way in which it...