1,493 arrested for breaking curfew

1,493 people have been arrested in the last 24 hours including 105 in Mannar, in the Tamil homeland. Thus far 12,223 people have been arrested since the island imposed curfew which started at 6 pm 20 March. The police have also seized a total of 3,017 vehicles. Read more from the Colombo Page.

Coronavirus spreads in Sri Lanka, 3 new cases in Jaffna

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases has continued to rise in Sri Lanka, reaching a new high of 162 this morning. There have been 5 confirmed deaths from COVID-19 so far. In Jaffna, 3 new cases were confirmed this morning. Sri Lanka’s president declared Jaffna amongst the island’s “High Risk Zones” that have been subject to a military enforced curfew.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa condemns fake news during a crackdown on social media

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has put out a statement condemning the spread of fake news on social media platforms with various false messages claiming to be from him. On Twitter the Sri Lankan President stated; “Beware of fake news & messages being circulated under my name via messenger platforms. Any announcement or message will be published only through official channels of Presidents Media Division & verified Facebook & Twitter accounts,” Rajapaksa’s statement follows growing concerns from human rights groups over Sri Lanka’s use of the pandemic to curtail free...

Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry claims Ceylon Tea 'helps increase immunity' against coronavirus

Sri Lanka’s Foreign Ministry has been promoting the potential use of black tea as an “immunity booster”, as the government began arresting people on the island for spreading “fake news”. The official Twitter Account of the Ministry of Foreign Relations sent out a tweet claiming, " #CeylonBlackTea rich in "Theaflavins" helps increase human immunity against #COVID19 ". "The #SriLankaTea industry successfully launches its first ever e-auction; online tea auction today (04)," it added. Meanwhile the Sri Lankan HIgh Commission in Pakistan echoed the Foreign Ministry's claims, stating “IS BLACK TEA...

Tamil fishermen say Canadian company and Sri Lankan police block them from accessing sea

Updated 2230 GMT The owner of a private Canadian company has reportedly blocked Tamil fishermen in Mullaitivu from going out to sea, with the assistance of the Sri Lankan security forces, seriously threatening their livelihood amidst a military enforced curfew during the coronavirus pandemic. Local fishermen in the area allege that the head of Canbe Foods Inc, a private Canadian company, has instructed the military to block any fishermen who attempt to go out to sea and fish. The company reportedly owns several acres of land and a hotel in the area, with the owner Charlesjanthan Antony said...

‘Sri Lanka Uses Pandemic to Curtail Free Expression’ – HRW

Following the outbreak of coronavirus on the island, “Sri Lanka’s inspector general has ordered police to arrest those who ‘criticise’ officials involved in the coronavirus response, or share ‘fake’ or ‘malicious’ messages about the pandemic,” writes Meenakshi Ganguly, the South Asia Director at Human Rights Watch (HRW). “Blanket censorship and threats of arrest for speech not only violate Sri Lanka’s obligations under international human rights law, but are counter-productive,” she added. “Sri Lankans’ concerns that their rights will be respected are particularly crucial since President...

Forced cremations of COVID-19 victims defy WHO guidelines and disregard minorities’ rights – Amnesty

Global Human Rights Group, Amnesty International, released a press statement in response to Sri Lanka cremating their coronavirus (COVID-19) victims, stating the authorities “must respect the right of religious minorities to carry out the final rites of their relatives in accordance with their own traditions unless they can show that restrictions are needed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.” Sri Lanka has forcibly cremated the bodies of two of the early COVID-19 victims, on instructions from the authorities, despite the World Health Organization (WHO) suggesting it was not essential to do so.

Sri Lanka appeals to expatriates for foreign currency inflows to help tackle coronavirus

Sri Lankan financial authorities appealed to Sri Lankan expatriates to consider depositing their foreign currency savings into the Sri Lankan banking system to help tackle coronavirus. In a statement, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka called for support to "safeguard the people from coronavirus, to bring its spread under control and to provide healthcare and social security to the people." "Such remittances would go a long way to promote people's welfare during the current period of still spread COVID-19, and economic revival in the immediate aftermath," the statement added. See more from Colombo...

Sri Lanka warns military is on ‘high alert for re-grouping of certain elements’

Sri Lanka’s defence secretary warned that the military was still “are kept on high alert on other security threats” throughout the COVID-19 pandemic including the “re-grouping of certain elements”, as a military enforced curfew engulfed much of the island. “Sri Lanka’s Tri-Forces, Police and other security agencies are kept on high alert on other security threats while they have been tasked to support the Government’s mechanism to control the spreading of COVID-19,” said Kamal Gunaratne, who stands accused of overseeing war crimes committed by the military against Tamil civilians over a...

Pardon of Sri Lankan soldier is ‘slap in face’ for UNHRC - ICET

Sri Lanka’s presidential pardon of a soldier convicted of massacring Tamils is “a slap in the face to the member countries” of the UN Human Rights Council, said the International Council of Eelam Tamils in a statement this week, as they reiterated calls for Sri Lanka to be referred to the International Criminal Court. The release of Stag Sgt Sunil Rathnayke, who was convicted for the Mirusuvil massacre, “does not surprise the Tamils who have seen too many Sinhalese criminals walk free,” said the Tamil diaspora group. “Despite overwhelming evidence against all of the accused army men, Sunil...

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