Action Against Hunger submit report to UN over massacre

The humanitarian organisation Action Contre La Faim (“Action Against Hunger” or ACF) have submitted a report to the UN Human Rights Council regarding the massacre of 17 of their employees in Muttur in August 2006. Together with SPEAK, the report for the Fourteenth Session of the upcoming Universal Periodic Review in October 2012 said that the crime was, “ internationally condemned as one of the most atrocious acts perpetrated against humanitarian aid workers ”. The massacre was widely believed to have been committed by members of Sri Lanka’s Armed Forces, after 15 ACF staff members were found...

UN team confirms cluster bomb use in Sri Lanka

Cluster bombs found in Mullaiththeevu, January 2009. Courtesy of TamilNet A UN mine removal expert has reported the discovery of unexploded cluster munitions during demining work in Puthukudiyiruppu, officially recognising for the first time their use in Sri Lanka. The confirmation comes after a young boy was killed and his sister injured after trying to prise apart explosive device for scrap metal to sell. Cluster munitions are packed with small “bomblets” that break up upon release, spreading over a large area. They often indiscriminately harm civilians, lying unexploded long after their initial deployment, leading to them coming under intense international scrutiny. In an email on Tuesday written by Allan Poston, the technical adviser for the U.N. Development Program's mine action group in Sri Lanka, he states, “After reviewing additional photographs from the investigation teams, I have determined that there are cluster sub-munitions in the area where the children were collecting scrap metal and in the house where the accident occurred. This is the first time that there has been confirmed unexploded sub-munitions found in Sri Lanka ," "Cluster sub-munitions are extremely dangerous items of (unexploded ordnance) and can explode with the slightest movement or touch," Sri Lankan government spokesman Lakshman Hulugalla immiediately said the military had not used cluster munitions. " We are denying that information ," he said.

Two children die in landmine explosion in Jaffna

Two children were killed by a landmine blast in Pazhai, Jaffna on Wednesday. Thamilkumaran Mukunthan, 4, and his 2 year old brother Thanujan were killed after playing with a unexploded ordnance found near their house. One child died on the spot and the other died on the way to hospital. The children and their family recently resettled in Pazhai after it was declared free of mines by the government. Meanwhile a leading Danish de-mining group is winding up its operations in Jaffna, sparking complaints by civil groups. Read full report on TamilNet .

16 yr old girl attacked by soldier in Mullaitheevu

A Sri Lankan army soldier attacked and attempted to rape a 16 year old Tamil girl in the Nedungeeni area of Mullaitheevu district on Monday, reports Tamilwin. The incident took place at around 10:30am, when the girl's parents were at work and her younger sister, at school. T he soldier, who has been deployed to that locality to conduct government registration, entered the house. The soldier then reportedly wrote his phone number on a calendar and threatened to kill the girl's youngest sister unless she contacted him. As the girl screamed for help and tried to run out of the house, the Sri...

Déjà vu

No sooner had the cross-party Indian delegation, led by the opposition Lok Sabha leader Sushma Swaraj, left Sri Lanka than the Sri Lankan government began refuting Indian press reports that the president had assured Swaraj of implementing the 13th Amendment and going beyond. On Monday, the pro-government newspaper, The Island, published an article asserting that Sri Lankan government sources rejected such claims , and that the president had not given such assurances. Instead during a meeting at Temple Trees, Rajapaksa had in fact recalled how India had forced the 13th Amendment on Sri Lanka's...

Jagath's backflip

Sri Lankan Army Commander Jagath Jayasuriya has backtracked from statements made by him at an event in Kurunegala. According to the Daily Mirror the headquarters of the Sri Lankan Army has said there was an error on the Sri Lankan Army website in regards to his speech and has amended it accordingly. Jagath Jayasuriya was first reported to have said that President Rajapakse personally gave him a call instructing him to 'complete the operations as planned'. See both paragraphs below: Original: “I still remember, the President, personally giving me a call instructing me to pursue the operations...

Security forces to search for 'ex-LTTE' returning from abroad

Sri Lanka's security and intelligence agencies launched a search operation in the Eastern province looking for 'ex-LTTE cadres' who had returned from overseas, the Daily Mirror reports . Authorities have stated that individuals that had not gone through the government's 'rehabilitation' program would be detained, questioned and their details registered.

Rajapakse defied international pressure to pursue military operations – SL Army Chief

President Mahinda Rajapakse ‘personally’ instructed the Sri Lankan military to pursue the military operations in 2009, despite enormous international pressure, the army commander has revealed. Speaking to soldiers at an event in Kurunegala, the head of the Sri Lankan Army Jagath Jayasuriya said President Rajapakse was ‘determined’ to see the operations through till the end. “ President Mahinda Rajapaksa was determined and did not give in to pressures of the international community to suddenly stop the military operations when the Wanni humanitarian operations were entering a decisive phases...

Monks and the mob in Dambulla

Last Friday a mob of about 2,000 Sinhalese, led by a group of Buddhist monks, stormed into a mosque in Dambulla. The mosque and a Hindu temple have been long standing in an area now designated a sacred Buddhist site. The above video of the incident, some of which was broadcast on TV, shows leading members of the Buddhist clergy (Sangha) engaged in the violence. The security forces, as ever, stand by. The incident ends with speeches to the mob by the monks ... and a bit of worship and chanting. This article on offers a commentary on the incident and a translation of the Chief...

UK MP raises question on Major Silva's immunity

Addressing the UK House of Commons last week, the Labour MP for Mitcham and Mordem, Siobhain McDonagh, questioned the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs’ decision not to declare Major General Prasanna Silva persona non grata. McDonagh said, "Three months ago a dossier about war crimes committed by the defence attaché at Sri Lanka’s high commission in London, Major General Prasanna De Silva, was sent to the Foreign Office. However, the Foreign Secretary has reportedly refused to strip him of diplomatic immunity so that he can be questioned about these terrible accusations ." "I hope we can have a debate about the case and about the abuse of diplomatic immunity, because if the attaché is allowed to leave without being questioned, that will undermine Britain’s proud reputation for not tolerating war criminals ." " If we are soft on Sri Lanka, other shady regimes will surely also begin to regard us as a refuge for people who commit atrocities ."