Protest against NATO in Colombo

Photograph Pakistan Today A protest was held in Colombo on Friday condemning the United States and NATO, after airstrikes on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border killed 12 Pakistani soldiers. Speakers at the event went on to praise the Sri Lankan government’s war effort, calling it a justified approach and accused Channel 4 of being funded by the LTTE, whilst also being supported by the United States. Several government ministers attended the protest, including leader of the “National Freedom Front”, Wimal Weerawansa, and Governor Western Province Hon Alvi Maulana and Minister Mervin De Silva...

Asia Society forum on Sri Lanka

At a discussion hosted by the Asia Society on December 6, 2011, documentary filmmaker Callum Macrae , Malinda Seneviratne , Editor-in-Chief of Sri Lanka's The Nation, and Bob Templer of the International Crisis Group present and assess both the Sri Lankan government and international community's perspectives on that country's decades-long sectarian conflict. Tunku Varadarajan , editor of Newsweek International, moderates the discussion. (1 hr, 16 min.) See also Asia Society's related blog post here .

Navi Pillay defers Sri Lanka visit

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillai, has deferred a planned visit to Sri Lanka. Speaking to reporters in New York on Friday she said there should be accountability for the crimes committed during the war on the island. Commenting on the invitation she received from the Sri Lankan government to visit the country, she said she will not visit until Sri Lanka’s report by the LLRC (Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission) is first made public by President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Ms Pillay also said she hopes the LLRC report will be discussed at the Human Rights Council session...

Devananda set to take over Elephant Pass saltern

The Sri Lankan cabinet has approved an application by EPDP leader Douglas Devananda to restore and commence salt manufacturing at the Elephant Pass saltern, in the Jaffna peninsula. Devananda, who is head of the paramilitary group and also Minister of Traditional Industries and Small Enterprise Development, submitted the proposal on behalf of a new state owned corporation. Another EPDP run company the ‘Maheswari Foundation’ is already involved in the illegal excavation of sand Vadamaraadchi, also in Jaffna. See reports from TamilNet here and here . Devananda and his group have been accused of...

‘The image has become a powerful weapon’

‘Footage shows photographs of sexually abused women upon whom the military exercise a further act of domination with the camera. In one film taken on a smartphone soldiers are recorded throwing the bodies of dead females into a truck, rating their bodies as they fling them into a pile. This objectification and absolute disrespect for the dead is emphasised once again by the presence of the lens, which is said to be recording the acts as ‘trophy footage’. The filming of brutal executions by the perpetrators is another decisively symbolic act of power. However, like all weapons, these images...

Sri Lanka fears forensic access to Vanni – British MEP

Richard Howitt, who led a delegation of fellow European parliamentarians on a visit to Sri Lanka, says that the Colombo government is restricting access to vast areas of the north of the island to prevent the discovery of the many civilian dead buried there. “What everyone says is that it’s because [it is] literally where the bodies are buried, and that if people with forensic skills go in and investigations start, then the true horrors of what happened in those final days with so many innocent civilians said to have been killed absolutely unnecessarily, that that would come out and that the Sri Lankans will do everything to prevent that” he siad. The delegation was able to visit parts of the North-East, but was not allowed to enter military exclusion zones. Civilians from the affected regions will not be allowed to resettle in their homes for the foreseeable future, Mr Howitt told the BBC. (see report here )

Government’s plan to ban wheat will affect Tamils – UNP MP

A member of parliament from the main opposition UNP has spoken out against the proposed ban on the import of wheat. Harsha de Silva said the government’s plan would mostly affect Tamils, as they were the highest consumers of wheat products on the island. "The statement by the Prime Minister that wheat flour imports should be banned is an irresponsible statement and must be retracted," de Silva said. "While it may be his choice to consume only rice, or he wishes more people in this country ate rice, he must be made aware that some people in Sri Lanka are totally dependent on wheat flour." "Even though price of wheat flour doubled since then to close to Rs 85 a kilogram currently, the HIES for the year 2010 found that estate Tamil households consumption only fell marginally to 15.4 kilograms per month," de Silva said. "The 2010 data, which covers the entire island, also show that the household wheat flour consumption in the Jaffna district was 19.3 kilograms per month while in Vavuniya it was 18.1 kilograms per month."

'Indecent hurry' to release LLRC

Responding to calls for the LLRC report to be made public, Sri Lankan government spokesperson, Keheliya Rambukwella criticised such calls as an "indecent hurry" and asserted that the report would be presented in parliament at the "appropriate time". " We do not agree with the view that there should be an indecent hurry to make it public ", said Rambukwella. "The 9/11 commission in the US took five years to release its report", he added. The LLRC report was handed to Mahinda Rajapaksa on 21st November . Since the UK government and US senators , along side several international aid agencies,...

Police and Civil Defence Force to continue carrying weapons

The Inspector General of Police (IGP) has issued new instructions, ordering all members of the police force and Civil Defence Force to resume carrying firearms whilst on duty. Contradicting earlier reports that the police service was to disarm, Superintendent of Police (SP), Ajith Rohana was quoted to have said the decision to keep them armed was due to incidents were criminals killed police officers on duty. He also said that all police officers who joined the service after 1982 have gone through military training. "They are now being trained in serving the public" See our earlier posts: To...

SL Prime Minister calls for wheat and fruit import ban

The Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, D.M. Jayaratne has called for a total ban of wheat flour imports, the Daily Mirror reports. Jayaratne said the price of wheat products, including bread, should be increased until it is unaffordable for most people. He hopes this measure would force people to move towards consuming locally produced rice flour. “Some say rice flour does not expand as wheat flour but one could prepare rotti or a similar delicacy instead of bread,” he told parliament during a debate on the budget. The Prime Minister also called for a ban on the import of fruits. See related...

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