TNA calls for postponement of Sri Lankan elections amidst coronavirus outbreak

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has called on the Sri Lankan government to postpone parliamentary elections that were scheduled for next month, due to the threat posed by the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus on the island. “The safety of the public is our paramount concern,” said the TNA in a statement this morning. "For this reason, and for the reason that all democratic aspects cannot be properly be adhered to in this abnormal situation, we request the postponement of the General Elections due to be held on 25th of April 2020,” it added. The call comes after Sri Lanka President Gotabaya...

Sri Lankan soldiers admitted to Jaffna hospital with respiratory illness

At least two Sri Lankan soldiers have been admitted to Jaffna Teaching Hospital after showing signs of a potential respiratory illness, amidst concerns over a potential coronavirus outbreak. Though preliminary tests have not indicated any positive results for coronavirus, both soldiers are currently being treated in isolated rooms at the hospital. One of the soldiers was stationed at Mannar, whilst the other was at an army camp in Vavuniya. Tens of thousands of Sri Lankan soldiers are stationed across the North-East, where at least two military-run quarantine centres have been constructed to...

Rajapaksa confirms Sri Lanka’s elections will go ahead despite coronavirus troubles

Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa told South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) leaders today that “the elections will be held as planned”. The Parliamentary election scheduled for April will go ahead amid concerns of the increasing numbers of COVID-19 coronavirus cases on the island. Rajapaksa briefed measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus to SAARC leaders; he engaged in a video conference with other SAARC leaders and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi where they discussed strategies to combat the threat. The government’s handling of the coronavirus threat...

Tamil doctor warns of ‘politicised’ response as Sri Lankan military ramps up coronavirus measures

As coronavirus cases escalate across the island, hospitals and clinics across the North-East are bracing themselves for any potential outbreak, with many concerned at Colombo’s militarised and ‘politicised’ strategy. Speaking on condition of anonymity to the Tamil Guardian, one local clinician warned that systemic racism within Sri Lankan state institutions is risking lives.

Victims of disappearances dismissed as “fictitious persons” by Sri Lanka judge

A judge in Mannar has rejected families of the disappeared in the Mannar’s mass grave case representation in court on the basis that they “ do not have a legal standing to do so, ” according to JDS Lanka .

UK must consider travel bans and asset freezes on Sri Lankan officials - Theresa Villiers

British parliamentarian Theresa Villiers said that the UK needs to consider travel bans and asset freezes on Sri Lankan officials that may be implicated in war crimes, as she travelled to the UN Human Rights council to discuss accountability for mass atrocities this week. Despite global concerns regarding the coronavirus outbreak, Villiers said she travelled to Geneva because she has “British Tamil constituents who wanted me to go to the UN session to talk to the national delegations there about the importance of human rights in Sri Lanka”.

Coronavirus quarantine centres in North-East ‘has created fear among the people’ - Sumanthiran

Tamil National Alliance parliamentarian M A Sumanthiran said the Sri Lankan military’s decision to set up a detention centre to quarantine and screen potential patients for coronavirus “has created fear among the people living in that area” and called on Colombo to “ pay heed to the concerns of the public”. In a Tamil-language statement released this week, the TNA MP said there was public concern after the military took over a private university in Batticaloa to quarantine arrivals from abroad. “While we insist that the state should do everything within its capacity to contain and control the...

Sri Lanka’s defence secretary admits ‘objections’ to coronavirus detentions

Sri Lanka’s defence secretary admitted that not all foreign arrivals have been willing to go into mandated quarantine at detention centres that the military has constructed, in the wake of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. “We also had to face objections by some passengers, who arrived from COVID- 19 hit countries, when they were asked to undergo 14-days quarantine process,” admitted Kamal Gunaratne, Sri Lanka’s war crimes accused defence secretary. An official Sri Lankan military press release said that some of those detained were “panicked” but “despite objections of those who were...

‘We won a war - trust us’ says head of Sri Lankan army

The head of the Sri Lankan army called on the public to trust the security forces and boasted of its military victory that killed tens of thousands of Tamil civilians, as it continued running detention centres and leading the regime’s current coronavirus counter-strategy. Shavendra Silva, who is currently subject to US travel sanctions over his role in overseeing war crimes, made a special announcement this week, where he once more called for public co-operation with the armed forces. In his statement , Silva boasted of the military’s wartime operations. “We are an Army which has won a war...

Coronavirus cases continue to rise in Sri Lanka amidst fear of spread in foreign ministry

The total number of people currently infected with the COVID-19 coronavirus has now risen to 10 in Sri Lanka, as the foreign ministry confirmed the family member of an officer was one of those diagnosed positive. In a statement this morning, the Ministry of Foreign Relations confirmed that “one of the family members of an officer of the Foreign Ministry” has tested positive and since Friday the officer concerned has been self quarantined. “As an initial step, those staff who have come in direct contact with the officer concerned, during one working day earlier this week in Colombo, and others...

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