'This Land Belongs to the Army’ is a strong documentary about the manner in which the lands in the traditional Tamil homelands of the North-East of the island of Sri Lanka have been appropriated by the government and the military. Made by Indian journalist and filmmaker Maga Tamizh Prabhagaran, the documentary features first-hand testimony from victims and an exclusive discussion with a Sri Lankan Army soldier about the use of chemical and other bombs to support the logic that the land belongs to the Army and that the Tamils can “live in [the] country” only provided they do not “demand undue things”, to use the words of former military commander Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka,. Launched in January this year at the UK Houses of Parliament, the documentary has gone on to be broadcast around the world, as well as being selected for the 7th International Documentaries and Short Film Festival of Kerala taking place next month and the Mediteran Film Festival in Bosnia in August. It was also entered into the International Festival of Local Televisions in Slovakia earlier this month.
Sri Lanka is using the mask of ‘counterterrorism’ to hide its own terror, whilst increasingly becoming a hub for international crime, said award-winning exiled Tamil journalist J.S. Tissainayagam in a piece for Foreign Policy . Tissainayagam, a former a Nieman Fellow at Harvard Univeristy, said that by continuing to paint itself as a victim of terrorism, Sri Lanka “absolves itself of its own inaction if not outright compliance with exporting terrorism”. Whilst Sri Lanka may continue to claim the alleged revival of the LTTE as a reason for receiving international assistance, Tissainayagam argues that meanwhile, with government and military involvement, the island has become a hub for international crime.
The Australian government’s “dangerously close relationship with Sri Lanka” has put it at odds with its allies and leaves it at risk of violating international human rights obligations, said Emily Howie, the director of advocacy and research at the Human Rights Law Centre in a piece published on Tuesday. Stating that Australia has “failed to live up to its own human rights standards” , Howie said the government has become “increasingly unwilling to criticise Sri Lanka on any account” , even though it is “well aware of the serious human rights situation in Sri Lankan and the brutal track record of its partners” . Howie went on to call the increased collaboration between the Sri Lanka and Australia, including Australian opposition to a UN Human Rights Council resolution on Sri Lanka earlier this year, “counterproductive, short-sighted and extremely disappointing”.
International actors who are pushing for reconciliation must respond proactively to the Sri Lankan government's denial of the Tamil people's right to mourn their dead, said exiled Tamil journalist Nirmanusan Balasundaram in a piece published on Monday. Writing for Journalists for Democracy Sri Lanka, Balasundaram states that the Sri Lankan government continues to wage war on the Tamil populace, through acts such as the banning of any memorial events and the isolation of the Tamil diaspora. Despite this, the diaspora continues to build non-violent strategies to counter government moves, noted Balasundaram, adding that international actors who push for reconciliation must respond proactively to the government's actions.
Writing in Just Security this week, Ryan Goodman, a Professor of Law and Co-Chair of the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at New York university School of Law, member of the Department of State’s Advisory Committee on International Law and member of Council on Foreign Relations argued that the US should prosecute Sri Lankan Defence Secretary, Gotabaya Rajapaksa for war crimes and crimes against humanity. See full opinion below.
Speech by South Africa's Special Envoy to Sri Lanka, and Deputy President of the African National Congress (ANC), Cyril Ramaphosa, on April 18th at an event organised by Shri Mariammen Temple in Mount Edgecombe, KwaZulu-Natal. I am extremely honoured and overjoyed to have been given this very rare opportunity of saying a few words to all of you. This is indeed a special moment in the calendar of our people. It is also particularly an important day, because it is the day that you all take your pilgrimage to this place. A place that has historic significance in the lives of Indian people in our...
The resolution adopted in the UN Human Rights council is the first step in the rocky path towards accountability, writes the exiled Tamil journalist, J.S. Tissainayagam in the Asian Correspondent on Monday. Full text of his opinion reproduced below. The Sri Lanka resolution adopted by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) Thursday establishes an international investigation mechanism to probe alleged war crimes of the past as well as monitor ongoing human rights violations in the country. While politicians worldwide spoke of the passing of the resolution in terms of victory and defeat, for those working for justice and accountability in the country it was a day of sober reflection on the work ahead. While the resolution partly fulfils the demand for justice and accountability, its weaknesses could also be a cause for serious setbacks.
The Tamil Students Initiative (TSI) recognises the resolution passed by the United Nations Human Rights Council as a small but important step in the ongoing struggle for justice for the Tamil people in Sri Lanka.
Writing in JDS, on the recent blanket proscription of several Tamil diaspora organisations by the Sri Lankan government, the National Council of Canadian Tamils' (NCCT) advocacy and research director, Krisna Saravanamuttu, described the government’s attempts to isolate the Tamil people from their families in the diaspora as another step in the genocide of the Tamil nation.
Op-ed written for South Africa's Mail & Guardian , by Yasmin Sooka, who in 2010 was appointed by UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon to a panel of experts to advise him on the conflict in Sri Lanka. The arrest on terrorism charges this week of two well-known human rights activists in Sri Lanka has sent ripples of fear through those who work for justice on the island, even though the two men were subsequently released. It was the timing, happening just days before the United Nations Human Rights Council votes on whether or not to hold Sri Lanka accountable for grave violations of international law during the final phase of the conflict in 2008-2009. An investigative mechanism under the office of the High Commissioner is envisaged in the current draft of the Resolution, which was tabled for voting on March 26.