2012 budget fosters militarisation

Sri Lanka's 2012 budget reveals further proposals to aid security forces and encourage the expansion of their families. The reading of the budget, by Mahinda Rajapaksa on Monday to parliament, was interrupted by an altercation between MPs . UNP MPs holding placards criticising the proposals were assaulted by government MPs. Measures aimed at the military included a one-off cash grant of 100,000 rupees, to any military or police officer who parented a third child. Arguing that Sri Lanka's military work towards fostering democracy and must be rewards, Rajapaksa defended the proposal as a mark...

York Federation of Students resolves ...

Extracts from a resolution passed unanimously by the annual general meeting of the York Federation of Students, the largest student union in Canada, representing 50,000 students: “Be It Further Resolved that the York Federation of Students “shall endorse the international call to immediately establish an independent, international, and impartial mechanism to ensure truth, accountability and justice in Sri Lanka; and “encourages its members to pressure the Federal Government to unequivocally call for an international war crimes inquiry to establish accountability and true reconciliation; and “...

Indian investors caught out by expropriation act

Indian investers have expressed concern at companies they have invested in, being listed among the 37 companies identified by the government through in the expropriation act as 'underperforming'. The investors are said to be studying the provisions of the Act very carefully. According to reports , the investors, such as one involved in the export of Wanaspathi oil, are in the process of appealing to the Indian High Commission to intervene. The bill, which was passed as law - the Revival of Underperforming Enterprises and Underutilized Assets Act - allows the government to takeover companies it deems to be underperforming. Twenty percent of the US$560 million of foreign direct investment received last year was from India.

Tamils will never accept unequal status - TNA

Highlighting the ongoing oppression and discrimination of the Tamils by the Sri Lankan government, the TNA's leader, Sampanthan, asserted that the Tamil nation "will not accept this status of inequality" in an interview with the Sunday Leader, published on Sunday. See here for interview in full. Extracts of Sampanthan's responses are reproduced below: "The Tamil people have not been treated as equal citizens for a very long time." "The Tamil people have consistently demonstrated that they will not accept this status of inequality and that they are resilient enough to come out of this tragic situation." On the militarisation and Sinhalisation of the North-East, the TNA leader said, " Deliberate efforts are being made by the Government to further change the linguistic and cultural identity of the Northern and Eastern provinces. "There is no doubt whatever that the Government is aggressively pursuing a sinister programme to change the demographic composition of the Northern and Eastern provinces in such a manner as to weaken the Tamil presence and increase the majority Sinhala presence ." On accountability and investigating war crimes, Sampanthan reiterated, "Human rights laws and humanitarian laws are a matter of universal concern. No country is entitled to violate international human rights laws and international humanitarian laws. Every country is bound by the international conventions it has acceded to, and Sri Lanka can be no exception ."

TNA to seek greater devolution at upcoming talks

Tamil National Alliance (TNA) is seeking devolution of executive, legislative and judicial power as an essential part of addressing the legitimate grievances of the Tamil nation in the North-East, said TNA MP Suresh Premachandran. Premachandran added that police and land powers, the powers of governors and the powers to be vested with the government would also be raised in talks scheduled to take place on the 5th, 6th, 14th and 15th December between the TNA and the government. “With regard to the powers to be vested with the government, we have to discuss whether a second chamber should be...

Central Bank defends takeover bill

In an attempt to quell investor fears, Sri Lanka’s Central bank has announced that the takeover bill is not expropriation. Defending the newly passed “urgent bill”, the bank said in a statement, "The ... act does not, in any way, constitute the nationalization or the expropriation of private assets". They went on to insist that only 37 assets would be targeted and that the running would be handed over to a "competent authority". One company, owned by the Opposition Leader of the Eastern Provincial Council has filed a petition in Sri lankan courts, appealing against the acquisition of his...

India pens railway deal as Gothbaya seeks ships for Navy

Indian government-owned construction company IRCON has signed a deal with Sri Lankan Railways to reconstruct a railway line through Jaffna, in a contract worth $150 million. The railway project is to be funded through an $800 million loan from the Government of India to Sri Lanka, with a repayment period of 20 years and a 5 year moratorium. India is also providing another loan to Sri Lanka worth $167.4 million to reconstruct railway lines in the South of the island, with IRCON involved in three other railway contracts across Sri Lanka. While the railway projects are progressing as scheduled,...

Fonseka sentenced for implicating defence secretary in war crimes

Sarath Fonseka, former Sri Lankan Army General was sentenced for three years by the High Court on Friday on charges of "spreading disaffection", "spreading rumours" and "causing public disorder". According to the prosecution, Fonseka told the Sunday Leader newspaper on 13th December 2009, that the defence secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, of ordering the execution of LTTE commanders as they surrendered - a war crime. Fonseka disputes this. He is currently facing a 30-month sentence for alleged corruption and other charges. The decision to sentence Fonseka fell on the same day as Rajapaksa's birthday, and two days before the proposed release of the LLRC. Two out of the three High Court judges ruled against him. Attorney Nalin Ladduwahetty said Fonseka would appeal the sentence. In a statement, Fonseka said, “I reject this decision with disgust,” “I believe that the fair-minded people will correct this mistake one day, otherwise it will remain a black mark in the history of our judiciary.” Fonseka was the Army General during the final stages of the conflict where over 40,000 Tamils were systematically targetting by the Sri Lankan military and annihilated.

'Sri Lanka's savage smokescreen' - CPJ

The Committee to Protect Journalists has slammed Sri Lanka’s accusations that missing journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda has gone to seek political refuge in a foreign country. In a piece entitled “Sri Lanka’s savage smokescreen”, CPJ Asia Program Director Bob Dietz pointed out the discrepancies in Sri Lanka's former attorney general Mohan Peiris’s statements to the UN Committee Against Torture earlier this month. After initially stating that a police investigation is underway in Eknaligoda’s disappearance, Peiris then claimed to have “reliable information” that he had simply fled Sri Lanka and...

‘Leaked’ LLRC extracts

Sri Lanka’s anti-government website lankanewsweb.com has apparently obtained extracts of the yet to be published LLRC report. According to the website, which is banned in Sri Lanka, the government is preparing to sacrifice nearly one hundred soldiers, including senior military leaders, in order to save Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse and President Mahinda Rajapakse. The soldiers will be held responsible for the atrocities committed during the war in 2009, in the hope that the Rajapakse brothers will be let off the hook. Following are extracts from the article on lankanewsweb: “Fearing...

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