Reggae band ‘Big Mountain’ boycotts Sri Lanka over 'systematic violence'

Picture: UT San Diego The American reggae band ‘Big Mountain’ have refused an invitation to perform at a reggae festival in Sri Lanka, citing concerns over “systemic violence” towards “indigenous populations” in the country. The band stated that whilst they were keen to spread their message of peace, a performance in the country at such a time would serve to “gloss over or legitimate” their concerns of violence that transpired during the war in the country. In a statement published on their Facebook site yesterday, the group said: "We are declining this invitation, however, due to our concern with the violence that has transpired there as of late and that has been described as part of Sri Lanka’s “civil war.” "Whilst we would be honored to help convey a message of peace and reconciliation, we also feel that to play a concert of this type, at this moment in time, would help to gloss over or legitimate conditions of systemic violence that have transpired in that region and towards indigenous populations in particular."

Cancer specialist's home attacked - Jaffna

The home of Dr Jeyakumar, a cancer specialist at the Jaffna Teaching Hospital, was attacked a masked gang on Wednesday night, reports TamilNet. See here for article on TamilNet and photographs of the crime scene. The gang entered the house, smashing windows and destroying the place, before dousing Dr Jeyakumar's home in oil. The intruders fled after the family awoke and neighbours became alerted by the family's screams. According to TamilNet, the police arrived after 'several hours' of delay, and local civil activists suggested that Dr Jeyakumar was targeted due to his involvement in civil...

Diaspora lifeline sustains Vanni

Repeating a common falsehood, Sri Lanka’s President Rajapakse recently lambasted the Tamil diaspora as not having spent a penny on helping the Tamils of the Vanni. Speaking at the opening of the communications tower in Kilinochchi last week he claimed that ‘not a single member of the so called Tamil Diaspora shouting in foreign countries to protect the rights of Tamils, has donated a single dollar for the welfare of Tamils in Sri Lanka.’ However, the Island newspaper reported the same week that since May 2009, the Diaspora has sent over Rs 1 billion through the state-owned Bank of Ceylon...

Sri Lanka appoints Turkish ambassador

After announcing the closure of a number of embassies in Europe deemed as not serving Sri Lanka's interests, Sri Lanka has appointed an ambassador to Turkey - Bharthi Wijeratne. The Turkish Weekly reports that Sri Lankan officials said the 'decision to appoint an ambassador to Turkey is an indicator of the country's willingness to improve its relations with Turkey', in light of what Sri Lanka considers to be Turkey's 'rapidly growing economy.'

Airline losses due to government entourage flights - UNP

General Secretary of the UNP Tissa Attanayake has claimed that extravagant trips aboard by the President and his entourage have contributed to huge losses being incurred by Sri Lanka’s airlines. Stating that President Rajapaksa and Foreign Minister GL Peiris have travelled to more than 35 countries since 2010, Attanayake said that tax payers were funding these trips, with both Sri Lankan Airlines and Mihin Lanka running up losses totalling 24 billion rupees. Attanayake then went on to state that Sri Lankan Airlines had made an operating loss of 19.1 billion rupees in 2011, whilst being pumped...

Army Commander admits to land grab

In an interview to Sudar Oli, the Sri Lankan military’s army commander in Jaffna, Major General Mahinda Hathurusinghe admitted that land in Jaffna was being taken by the military to build army camps, but dismissed the allegations of land invasion. According to the Jaffna newspaper, Uthayan , under the name of “Government Land,” divisional office land and other key facilities continue to be seized by the army. Jaffna district Tamil National Alliance MP, Appathurai Vinayagamoorthy told Sudar Oli that total of 61 acres of land in Nallur, Kopai and Thelipillai are expected to be occupied by the...

Trade deficit widens

Sri Lanka's trade deficit for April widened by 2.6 percent year-on-year to $761 million, reported the Reuters news agency. The export of tea fell 9.3 percent in April, after a record fall in January - April of 11.7 percent. The export of textiles and garments was also reported to have dropped, 2.2 percent in April. See here .

Sison statement “in complete accordance” with US policy

The US Embassy in Colombo has released a statement endorsing US Ambassador-designate Michele Sison’s earlier speech , which called for greater action on Sri Lanka’s human rights record. The statement released by the US Embassy said , “Her statement reiterated long-standing U.S. policy toward Sri Lanka, including calls for further demilitarization of the north, provincial council elections in the north, and mechanisms to deal with outstanding human rights issues. Ambassador-designate Sison’s testimony is in complete accordance with U.S policy as well as previous statements by U.S. officials...

Tamil asylum seekers are ‘paid’ to make perilous journeys – Admiral Samarasinghe

The Sri Lankan envoy to Australia and New Zealand has claimed that Tamil refugees, fleeing the island, are ‘paid’ by smugglers to make the dangerous journey across the Indian Ocean. In a radio interview by Ashley Hall on the AM program on ABC radio , Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe said that Sri Lanka has evidence that these payments have been made. Extracts from the interview: ASHLEY HALL: Who are the people on board these boats? Who's trying to leave Sri Lanka? THISARA SAMARASINGHE: Oh they were a mix of people who were persuaded to come over by various organisations who were trying to get them out of Sri Lanka for whatever the reasons that they have. There were economic concerns and they have been paid... ASHLEY HALL: They have been paid? THISARA SAMARASINGHE: Yeah, in the sense they have not paid for the moment and we do not know the exact arrangements, and I would prefer to keep this information with ourselves or with the investigators because they are continuing to stop and that has resulted in the 113 people being stopped before they boarded a vessel. ASHLEY HALL: But you have evidence that people were paid to get on a vessel and travel to Australia and seek asylum? THISARA SAMARASINGHE: They have evidence. They have not paid, the racketeers, these human smugglers, these international racket band, they do this for various reasons - for money, for…

Guardian regrets promotional Sri Lanka supplement

Writing in The Guardian's Comment is Free section, the newspaper's readers' editor, Chris Elliott, expressed regret over the paper's decision last week to include a 24-page promotional Sri Lanka supplement in the same issue as the newspaper's reporting of on-going torture of deportees. Elliott wrote: "Although the disclaimer on the supplement says the Guardian is not responsible for the content, the act of distribution by the newspaper lends a perception of endorsement – probably more so than a normal advert would – and the opportunity this affords to governments is not one we should provide...

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