Major Tamil party calls for North-East merger

The largest party in the Tamil National Alliance, the Illankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi, has called for the merging of the Northern and Eastern provinces into one administrative unit at its annual General Council meeting. The meeting, held ahead of Sunday’s 14th annual convention, also resolved to call for an end to state-sponsored colonisation schemes, equal rights for the Tamil people and for progress in resettlement and development, in both the North and East. A leaked cable from the US embassy revealed that international diplomats were unhappy with a 2006 decision by the Sri Lankan Supreme...

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The Sunday Times has reported on the plight of a 16-year old child, born to a widowed mother who was repeatedly raped as she was forced into sexual slavery in a holiday resort in the South of the island. The girl was trafficked from Batticaloa after a smuggler promised to send her abroad, but instead she was sent to a holiday resort in Hikkaduwa, where she was repeatedly raped by a tourist. Chief Inspector Sumith Gunaratne commented that the ‘modus operandi’ of the agent of the prostitution racket was to search the North and East for war-orphaned minors, in order to force them into the sex-...

Son of Indian consulate officer abducted in Jaffna

The son of the cultural officer of the Indian Consulate in Jaffna was abducted by unidentified men on Friday afternoon, before being released the next day. According to Ceylon Today , officer S Prabhakaran’s 14-year old son was on his way back from St. John’s College in Jaffna and was waiting at the Jaffna bus stand when abductors approached him. "The abductor who came on a motor bike had later fled to Kilinochchi via Pooneryn, along with the boy,” he said. The boy was held for a night in Killinochchi before being released near the Nallur temple on Sunday, after the Police and Army were...

Protest over Rajapaksa’s visit to the UK

British Tamils held a demonstration outside the residence of the British Prime Minister, to protest against the forthcoming visit by Sri Lankan president, Mahinda Rajapaksa. Rajapaksa was invited to take part in the Queen’s diamond jubilee celebrations. The Tamil Coordinating Committee – UK handed a petition to officials at No 10 Downing Street, calling on the British Government to withdraw the invitation extended to Rajapakse. The TCC-UK petition questioned the UK’s commitment to human rights. “Given that the UK is privy to several reports by reputable human rights groups on the nature and...

Monks protest against mosque in Colombo

Buddhists monks have again led another protest, demanding the demolition of a mosque in Colombo, stating that the building is there illegally. Leading a group of around 250 people, monks marched through Dehiwala claiming that the mosque has been constructed illegally, and that goats were being reared and sacrificed in the premises. The claims have been disputed by a mosque trustee board member Hizni Mohammed who stated, “It is not an illegal construction. We have accurate deeds and the building has been there for so many years,” The Mayor of Dehiwala-Mount Lavina Dhanasiri Amaratunge however...

UK High Commissioner criticises military presence in the Northeast

The British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, John Rankin, has criticised the large military presence in the Northeast of Sri Lanka. In a video message, answering questions about last month’s report on human rights , Mr Rankin said Sri Lanka has serious human rights issues that need to be addressed. He questioned the need for maintaining such a huge military contingent in the Northeast and called for the number to be scaled down to make it resemble the number of soldiers in other parts of the island. Mr Rankin also pointed out that any accusations of breach of international humanitarian law by...

Benin, India and Spain in Sri Lanka UPR troika

The troika tasked with serving as rapporteurs for Sri Lanka’s Universal Periodic Review, consists of Benin, India and Spain. Sri Lanka’s review is due to start in November this year. The UPR process examines the human rights situation of each member state of the UN every four years. The UPR provides the opportunity for each country to present the progress it has made since its last review, but also allows other stakeholders, such as human rights organisation and other countries, to submit information detailing lack of progress or continuing abuses. The review is conducted by the 47 members of...

‘We are watching and we are holding you accountable’

The United States State Department have released their 2011 human rights report, raising numerous concerns with the situation in Sri Lanka, including disappearances, torture, freedom of the press, IDP protection, sexual violence, government co-operation with NGOs and unlawful killings in Tamil areas. Marking the release Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sent a warning to governments across the world that abuse human rights, stating “These reports, which the United States Government has published for nearly four decades, make clear to governments around the world: We are watching and we are holding you accountable. And they make clear to citizens and activists everywhere: You are not alone. We are standing with you. ” Regarding Sri Lanka, the report stated, “The major human rights problems were unlawful killings by security forces and government-allied paramilitary groups, often in predominantly Tamil areas, which led many to regard them as politically motivated , and attacks on and harassment of civil society activists , persons viewed as Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) sympathizers , and journalists by persons allegedly tied to the government , which created an e nvironment of fear and self-censorship .” “Other serious human rights problems included disappearances, as well as a lack of accountability for thousands who disappeared in previous years. ” “Discrimination against persons with disabilities and against the ethnic Tamil minority continued, and a disproportionate number of victims of human rights violations were Tamils.” “The government continued to refuse the request by the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for an expanded mission and an independent presence in the country.” See the section of the report on Sri Lanka here . See Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's and Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Michael Posner full speeches at the release, in the video below. Sri Lanka's Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris met with both the officials on a recent trip to the State Department last week.

‘Naval zone’ to be established in Eastern Province

In a sign that the militarisation of the Eastern Province is set to increase, the Sri Lankan Navy has declared that they will establish a ‘Naval zone’ around Amparai town. According to Colombo Page , the Navy has said the establishment of the new zone will see the navy continue its work to “uplift civilian lives”. Currently naval supervision for the Eastern province is directed from Galle. Earlier this month, Navy media spokesman commander Kosala Warnakulasuriya stated that the Navy was continuously conducting 24-hour patrols along the coast to prevent “terrorism”, adding that the number of...

Army rejects US human rights report

The Sri Lankan Army has rejected the claims laid out in the 2011 US State Department report on human rights, calling it ‘ yet another wild allegation ’. Stating that the report was just another attempt by international powers to tarnish the image of Sri Lanka’s Armed Forces, military spokesperson Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasuriya said, “There are no unlawful killings taking place in Sri Lanka and also no paramilitary groups operating as mentioned in the report.” “We will investigate those complaints and take action where necessary” Wanigasuriya further went on to state that the carrying of weapons...

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