Royal Commonwealth Soc head urges stronger action on Sri Lanka

Speaking to Channel 4 News on the mass protests against Rajapaksa in the UK on Wednesday, the chairman of the Royal Commonwealth Society, Peter Kellner, said the meeting with Rajapaksa had been an embarrassment to the Queen, however it was due to a "mistake" made at the last Commonwealth summit, when "they took no action against the mounting evidence" of human rights violations in Sri Lanka. See here for full interview with Channel 4 News. Transcript of interview follows: Q. I asked whether, in his view, the President of Sri Lanka should have been here today. A. No I don't think he should, it wasn’t a mistake that the Queen or Buckingham Palace made, Sri Lanka is a member of the Commonwealth. The mistake was made by the Commonwealth at their last summit, last year in Perth in Australia, when they took no action against the mounting evidence that you amongst others have provided, of things going wrong and human rights being violated in Sri Lanka . Q. But if they won’t suspend him, then he’s a legitimate leader of a Commonwealth country and has every right to be here and to be heard. A. Here’s the problem, it’s not just any old Commonwealth country, they are, Sri Lanka is hosting the next Commonwealth summit , which the Queen shall attend towards the end of next year, What worries me is that if nothing is done to improve the human rights situation in Sri Lanka, that summit is going to be a disaster .

Channel 4 officials deported from Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka deported Channel 4 director, Stuart Cosgrove, and his wife of Tamil descent, Shirani Sabaratnam, on Sunday. Both have now been placed on a " blacklist " and barred from entering the country by the Department of Immigration and Emigration. National Criminal Investigation unit arrested both individuals and deported them. Accoring to Virakesari, Shirani Sabaratnam stayed seven hours in the country before she was refused a visa and turned back at the airport. Meanwhile the BBC reports the Sri Lankan official in charge of immigration told Charles Haviland of the BBC that Cosgrove's...

Tamils across Commonwealth protest against Rajapaksa visit

Across the Commonwealth nations, Tamils have protested against Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s visit to the UK to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. An event held in Auckland, New Zealand saw Tamils brave the extreme weather conditions to hold banners and placards, denouncing Rajapaksa as a war criminal. Canadian Tamils too held a demonstration outside the British Consulate-General in Toronto, calling for the arrest of the Sri Lankan President. Photograph courtesy of TamilNet In Chennai, 19 political parties and grassroot organisations handed a memo into British mission,...

Protests outside Park Lane Hilton at Rajapaksa's stay

Published 00:01 BST. Updated 10:11 BST (more photos added) Tamil protesters gathered once again on Monday, to demonstrate against the arrival of Rajapaksa to the UK. Gathering outside the Park Lane Hilton Hotel since mid-afternoon, protesters shouted for several hours ceaselessly. Holding placards denouncing him as a war criminal, protesters called on the British government to withdraw its invitation. As the Tamil protesters gathered opposite the hotel, eye witnesses state that a coach was seen to arrive by the entrance of the hotel and drop off around 30 Sinhala pro-Rajapaksa supporters who came with Sri Lankan flags and banners expressing support. Although the supporters appeared to be chanting, it could not be heard amidst the protesters shouting. At 17:25 BST, the Sinhala supporters appeared to be packing up to leave when a diplomatic car, flanked either side by security vehicles sped out from the back entrance of the hotel.

US will take over Sri Lanka warns Weerawamsa

Addressing an event in Marawila on Saturday, the infamous minister, Wimal Weerawansa, asserted that the US was seeking to "destablise" the country by working in "separatist organisations". Weerawamsa said , “The geographic location of Sri Lanka and its natural resources are vital for American interest and due to this factor, the Americans have sided with separatist organisations that want to de stabilize this country and then take it over ." “ It is because of this that the US, Britain and the TNA are asking for the removal of the military in the North ." " That would help them sow the seeds...

Rajapaksa keynote speech cancelled amid fears of Tamil protests

Rajapaksa's keynote speech due to have taken place at a meeting of the Commonwealth Economic Fourm at 10am on Wednesday has been cancelled amid fears of mass Tamil protests, after a series of protests against his UK visit over the past few days. He will still be attending a lunch with the Queen, at an event arranged by the Commonwealth Secretary General and Marlborough House on Pall Mall. See here for report by Channel 4 News. The organisers, Commonwealth Business Council (CBC), stated on its website : "After careful consideration the morning sessions of the Forum on Wednesday 6th of June...

Hundreds protest at LHR, Rajapaksa's arrival unconfirmed

Published 03:00 BST. Updated 10:40 BST Hundreds of Tamils flooded into the Arrivals lounge at London Heathrow Airport Terminal 4 on Sunday night, as reports of flight UL503, said to be carrying Mahinda Rajapaksa, emerged. Carrying placards and banners denouncing him as a war criminal and shouting chants urging the British government and the British monarch not to invite him into the country, protesters filled the arrivals lounge. Rajapaksa's arrival remains unconfirmed however. One source told Tamil Guardian that Scotland Yard's Community Liaison team were stating that he had not arrived, whilst protesters informed Tamil Guardian that police officers on the ground had announced he was not on flight UL503. Speaking to Tamil Guardian, one protester who wished to remain anonymous fearing for the safety of her family in the North-East, said, "There was a flight from Sri Lanka, UL503, that was said to have Rajapaksa on it, but don't know, the police keep trying to divert people by saying he isn't here, but that was what they said last time [protest at Heathrow in Nov 2010 at Rajapaksa's arrival] too." Updated 10:40 BST: Reports continue to be unconfirmed. Whilst the Daily Mirror has announced his arrival, one source told Tamil Guardian that diplomatic insiders have stated he is yet to arrive. Other reports state that the police have unofficially stated he is yet to arrive. There remains much speculation over his accommodation whilst in UK too with some reports suggesting The Dorchester, due to its close proximity to the Sri Lankan High Commission, and others suggesting the Park Lane Hilton. For live updates follow us on Twitter.

JHU head fights back

The Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) party has called for a public debate on a recent private member's motion seeking a constitution amendment barring religious clergy from becoming members of parliament. Criticising the motion made by UNP member Wijedasa Rajapakse, the head of the JHU, Omalpe Sobitha Thero, said the motion was being presented to parliament 'due to a hidden agenda of tobacco and liquor shop owners and LTTE sympathizers since the Buddhist monks and the JHU members in parliament pose a threat to these elements' , the Colombo Page reported . Sobitha Thero asserted that Buddhist monks...

'Generally' no torture say police

Responding to a recent statement made by the president's counsel , suggesting the widespread and endemic practice of torture by Sri Lankan police, the police spokesperson, SP Ajith Rohana said , “ Generally as a practice torture never takes place in Lankan Police stations .” “Torture is often misconstrued by the media and the public. When the Police go to apprehend a suspect if there is resistance the Police will use force in order to arrest him ." " This isn’t torture nor is using force to prevent damage to public or private property torture ” Rohana asserted that the proposed extension of...

Scotland Yard confirms arrival, Rajapaksa at Hilton

Published 11:19 BST Scotland Yard have confirmed that Rajapaksa has arrived in the UK after leaving Colombo around midnight last night and is currently staying at the Park Lane Hilton Hotel, according to sources within the diaspora. For live updates follow us @TamilGuardian on Twitter.