Following months of state-led harassment, Dr Kumaravadivel Guruparan handed in his resignation to the University of Jaffna last week. Not only is this a massive loss to academia on the island, but it is a stark and dangerous marker of the road that Sri Lanka is hurtling down, writes Thusiyan Nandakumar .
By calling on a military accused of egregious rights abuses to lead a public health operation, the Sri Lankan government risks “exacerbating existing ethnic divides, endangering human rights and civil liberties even further, and furthering the violent militarization of the island,” wrote Tamil Guardian's editor-in-chief Thusiyan Nandakumar in the Polis Project this week.
While there has been jubilation in much of the Sinhala south, Tamils and Muslims across the North-East fear that the return of a Rajapaksa regime means further rights abuses, wrote Thusiyan Nandakumar, Tamil Guardian’s editor-in-chief in The National this week. “For communities such as Tamils and Muslims, there is now an overwhelming sense of fear and trepidation,” said Nandakumar.
Tamil organisations across the world called on the international community to recognise that both candidates in the Sri Lankan presidential election have rejected a United Nations investigation into mass atrocities and offered no political solution to the Tamil people. In a joint New Year message, 63 organisations pledged to work towards “dignity, freedom, justice, and peace” for the Tamil nation, adding they were hopeful the upcoming United Nations investigation into mass atrocities “will lead to accountability and remedial justice for genocide, war-crimes, and crimes against humanity committed against the Tamil people.” The statement went on to add, “As the Sinhala leaders campaign for the next Sri Lankan Presidential election scheduled for January 8th 2015, the International Community should be cognizant of the belligerent declarations by both major Sinhala candidates against the OISL investigation."
Kings College London held its annual 'Breaking the Silence' exhibition on the November 20, to raise awareness among fellow students of the human rights violations and mass atrocities committed against Tamil civilians in Sri Lanka. The exhibition, located in the university's ‘The Spit’ - a bustling area where students pass en route to the lecture theatres, was run by members of the KCL Tamil Society. The atrocities, including torture, sexual violence, enforced disappearance, war crimes and genocide, were exhibited through posters, paintings and a visual timeline of key events during the ethnic...
The British government continued to call on Sri Lanka to co-operate with a United Nations investigation into mass atrocities on the island and stated that the UK's trade with Sri Lanka goes “hand in hand” with its commitment to human rights. Speaking during a debate in the House of Lords on Thursday, Lord Livingston, the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills & Foreign and Commonwealth Office, said, “Trade is important not only to the prosperity of the UK but to Sri Lanka and its people. However, the UK’s commitment to free trade goes hand in hand with our commitment to human rights. That point has been made volubly.” “We continue to urge Sri Lanka to co-operate and ensure the protection of those providing evidence to the investigation, and to implement the recommendation of its own internal commission on resettlement and rehabilitation.” The question of whether the British government would deploy sanctions against Sri Lanka was raised during the debate, with Lord Livingston saying, “The UK Government’s position on this is that it is premature to do anything more prior to the UN reporting on the matter, and we are expecting the UN’s report in March 2015. When we receive it, it will be appropriate for the Government to take a view of which, if any, of those recommendations should be taken up.”
MP Nick De Bois addressing the event The Chairman of the Conservative party, British government ministers and Members of Parliament voiced their support for the Tamil community in the United Kingdom and backed calls for justice for the Tamil people at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham this week.
William Hague opening the End Sexual Violence in Conflict summit in London earlier this year. Former British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Sri Lanka's refusal to participate in the End Sexual Violence in Conflict summit was an “obvious gap”, adding its rejection of the campaign will become “more and more obvious” in the months ahead. Speaking at the sidelines of the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham, Mr Hague hailed the countries who attended the summit in London earlier this year, calling it a “summit like no other”. Responding to a question from the Tamil Guardian, Mr Hague said, “Sri Lanka is an obvious gap particularly since so many of these crimes have taken place there, despite all our encouragement to the Government of Sri Lanka.”
The United States Tamil Political Action Council released an updated version of their #GetThePicture campaign map this week, detailing the long history of massacres that took place across the Tamil North-East, at the hands of the Sri Lankan state. Announcing the updated maps, Dr. Karunyan Arulanantham, President of USTPAC said, "The Tamils have suffered massacres and violence at the hands of the mono-ethnic Sinhala military since 1958 with increasing frequency and barbarity." "This unchecked and systematic decades-long violence culminated in a genocidal onslaught in 2009 in which 146,000 Tamils are unaccounted for, and the continuing military occupation of Tamils in the North-East and forced land grabs all point to the intention and designs of Sri Lankan state to marginalize the Tamils and reduce them into a submissive minority."
The Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict concluded in London last week, with 155 states endorsing a joint declaration pledging to work to prevent and punish sexual violence. The four-day summit saw countries from across the globe pledge to improve the response and support to victims of sexual violence and their access to justice, as well as exclude such crimes from amnesty provisions. See the full declaration here . As public exhibitions, theatre productions and discussions took place, ministers from around the world gathered to discuss the issue of sexual violence in conflict and measures that could to taken to prevent rape, protect the victims and punish the perpetrators. The key initiative launched by the British government was the 'International Protocol on the Documentation and Investigation of Sexual Violence in Conflict’.