Tamils cast their vote in the North-East. (Photograph Tamilwin). Polls opened this morning local time for Sri Lanka's parliamentary election. Tamils awoke today to elect an expected maximum 18 MPs to seek constitutional change within a 225 seat Sinhala majority parliament where there has been a rejection of Tamil demands from across the spectrum of Sinhala majority political parties. The election has seen the return of the formerly defeated president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, to run on as the Sri Lankan Freedom Party (SLFP) candidate against the United National Party, which has formed a coalition together with smaller parties including the JHU - the United National Front (UNF). The ruling UNF majority Sinhala coalition as well as the UPFA Sinhala majority opposition have rejected Tamil demands for fully devolved federalism, acknowledgement of the Tamil right to self-determination, de-militarisation of the North-East and international justice mechanisms. Amid credible reports of ongoing torture in Sri Lanka, Tamils in the militarised North-East have been clear in reiterating their demands however, which stem from over six decades of seeking solutions within Sinhala majoritarianism in parliament. As campaigning has heated up over recent weeks, the Tamil parties have launched their campaigns precisely on these very issues that remain of the greatest significance to the Tamil electorate. The two main Tamil parties - the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and the Tamil National People's Front (TNPF) have said they will seek constitutional change to fully devolve powers to the North-East through a federal solution and recognise Tamils as a nation on the island, as well as proceeding to seek an international process to deal with the findings of the upcoming UN investigation in to Sri Lanka’s mass atrocities.
On 14th August 2006, fifty-three Tamil school girls and 3 staff members were killed, and over 150 injured, when four Sri Lankan Air Force jets flew over the Vanni, dropping sixteen bombs over the Sencholai children's home in Vallipuram for orphaned girls. In a macabre warning of the attacks against hospitals within the designated 'No Fire Zones' in 2009, the Sencholai attack took place despite the Sencholai's GPS coordinates being given to the Sri Lankan military via UNICEF and the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC), in order to protect it as a humanitarian zone. See a list of the victims at the end of this article and their photos here . Also see a survivor’s account of the airstrike here , and photos of the aftermath here and here .
A 78 page study by Freedom from Torture UK, found that Sri Lanka’s military, police and intelligence services have carried on practicing torture and rape against Tamils after the armed conflict, with incidents also occurring under the new Sirisena government. The report called on member states of the United Nations Human rights Council and Security Council to work to ensure a “genuine accountability process” which to win the confidence of the Tamil community “must include strong international participation at every stage and level.” Calling on Maithripala Sirisena to publically acknowledge...
Photograph Shalin An international investigation into mass atrocities committed against the Tamil people during the final stages of the armed conflict in Sri Lanka in 2009 is essential said all Tamil parties contesting at this month's general election in the North-East electoral districts on Saturday. The Tamil National Alliance (TNA), Tamil National People's Front (TNPF), Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF), Crusaders For Democracy (CFD) and Eelam People's Democratic Party (EPDP) unanimously agreed that a domestic inquiry in Sri Lanka would give rise to potential bias and impartiality, as those responsible for committing the crimes would have undue influence over the inquiry.
Abductions, torture and sexual abuse of Tamils by Sri Lanka's security forces continue under the new government of President Maithripala Sirisena, according to a new report released on Tuesday, which calls on the UN to refer its reports to the International Criminal Court for further action against those responsible for the crimes. Location of a secret torture camp in Trincomalee - International Truth and Justice Project Sri Lanka report The report, by the International Truth and Justice Project Sri Lanka (ITJP), says 100 so-called "white-van" abductions occurred between 2009 and 2015, one from as recent as this month, and describes torture and sexual violence by military forces and police against Tamils in locations across the North-East and Colombo. ITJP in its report published 41 locations on the island where victims say they were tortured since the end of the armed conflict, revealing the GPS coordinated for the notorious intelligence detention facility in the Trincomalee Naval Dockyard. The locations include 15 military camps, 15 police stations, 10 "Rehabilitation Camps" and Menik Farm internment camp.
Photograph: Tamil Guardian United and coordinated action between the homeland and Tamil diaspora is needed to achieve the Tamil nation’s aspirations of redeveloping the North-East, seeking justice for genocide and finding a political solution based on the Thimphu principles , said the Chief Minister of the Northern Province during a visit to the UK last week. A full English translation of his statement made on Friday can be read here . Addressing a full auditorium at the annual lecture of the International Association of Tamil journalists (IATAJ), CV Wigneswaran said, “Offering the humanitarian support to rebuild our land is a short term goal. For this your support is needed. Ensuring justice for the genocide that was committed is a medium term goal – for this too your support is needed. Finding a political solution based on the Thimbu principles is a long term goal – that too must take place with your support. I end my talk trusting that you will give your understanding and support for all of us to work together with dedication for this.”
Delegations meet at the first phase of the Thimphu peace talks. Tamil delegation seated on the left and the Sri lankan delegation seated on the right. Photograph: Sahajeevana Centre
Statue of Captain Miller in Nelliyadi, Jaffna. 2003. Today - July 5th - Eelam Tamils around the world mark Karumpuli Naal marking the sacrifice of the LTTE's elite women and men, the Black Tigers. It was on this day thirty years ago, in 1987 that the Black Tiger Captain Miller attacked a Sri Lankan Army garrison in Nelliyadi in the Jaffna district, by driving a small truck with explosives into it. Forty Sri Lankan soldiers were killed in the attack. Since then Eelam Tamils around the world have commemorated Karumpuli Naal on this day.
Updated 02:34 BST Witnesses from the No Fire Zone revealed their testimonies at a side event on disappearances in Sri Lanka at the 29th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, on Thursday. A panel discussion on detainees and disappearances in Sri Lanka consisting of the Chair of the Bar Human Rights Committee Kirsty Brimelow QC, President of the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation and Council of Europe Goodwill Ambassador Bianca Jagger, Human Rights Advocacy activist and the Tamil Guardian's Sutharshan Sukumaran, was chaired by the former All Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils (APPG-T) chair Lee Scott.