TNA rejects LLRC report, calls for international action

Dismissing the LLRC report for falling " dramatically short of international standards applicable to accountability processes ", the TNA (Tamil National Alliance) called on the " international community to institute measures that will advance accountability ", in a 70-page response to the LLRC report, released Sunday. The TNA's response comes as their face increasing pressure from Tamil civil society groups and ordinary Tamils in the North-East, to take decisive action. See here for the TNA's response in full. Extracts reproduced below: " The LLRC’s processes and practices have failed to win...

Forcibly displaced Tamils urge TNA to act

Tamils from Manalaaru in Vanni, who remain forcibly displaced by the Sri Lankan army since 1984, have urged the TNA to act or else the "structural genocide [of Eelam Tamils] will be complete in Mullaiththeevu in 2 years" reported Tamilnet. The displaced Tamils put their demands to TNA MPs Mavai Senathirajah and S Sritharan when the pair visited the area on a fact finding mission on Friday. The civilians stated that the Sri Lankan Army, citing 'land mines', was preventing them from visiting their lands. See here for full article by Tamilnet. Tamils in Mathagal and Thelakatti have also...

Ontario Premier sends Thai Pongal greetings

Marking the Tamil harvest festival of Thai Pongal, the Premier of Onatrio Dalton McGuinty realised a video statement praising the contribution the Tamil community have made to Canada. Extracts from the statement have been reproduced below. “The diversity of our people is a big reason why our province is exciting, so dynamic and so strong. In Ontario’s vibrant Tamil community, with strong values like devotion to family, hard work and charity, truly makes our province a better place to live for all of us.” They say the start of the month of Thai paves the way for new opportunities and in today’...

Ministry of impunity

The Sri Lankan president's advisor on reconciliation, Rajiva Wijesinha, called for a " ministry of reconciliation " to be created and "be charged with fulfilling the recommendations of the commission". Meticulously addressing any false hope raised by the government's latest fallacy, Wijesinha stipulated that it would work " as best as possible ", and would "be given a limited lifespan , of two years perhaps, after which it should be made redundant ."

LLRC report won’t sway CHOGM boycott

The release of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Committee report will not be enough to stop Canada from boycotting the 2013 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, due to be held in Sri Lanka. Andrew MacDougall, spokesperson from Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s office said that unless “real change” occurred, Canada would remain steadfast in boycotting the summit. He said , "This is a question of words versus deeds and it has to be backed up by action. We do need to see real progress. Unless progress is made, we will not be going to those meetings." Foreign Minister John Baird...

Education minister jeered in Jaffna University

Sri Lanka’s Higher Education Minister, S.B. Dissanayake was jeered by first year students at Jaffna University, reported the Daily Mirror , after he remarked that there were still LTTE members amongst the university. The heckling allegedly began when the Minister started giving a speech in Sinhala to the Jaffna students, with no Tamil interpreter present. An interpreter had to be then hurriedly found for the Minister. Last month the Sri Lankan Army set up extra military checkpoints at the two main entrances to Jaffna University, weeks after students held a remembrance event for Marveerar Naal...

A disrespect to Buddhism

Two men have been arrested and have bonds of Rs. 1 million each issued, after being charged with selling a product that disrespected a religion. The offensive item can be seen below. Photograph: The Sunday Times They were charged breaking section 292 of the penal code, as the ladies T-shirts they were selling were deemed a “disrespect to a religion”. The shirts carried a design which depicts the the Sacred Temple of the Tooth in Kandy and were sold for Rs. 850 each. The defendants have since been to the temple, to apologise to both the chief custodian (Diyawadana Nilame) and to the Mahanayake...

Britain ‘disappointed’ by LLRC

The British Foreign office announced in Parliament on Thursday that they were left “disappointed” by Sri Lanka’s Lessons Learnt & Reconciliation Commission report. The statement , which came on the same day that Canada demanded “decisive action”, was released by Minister Alistair Burt, who commented, “The British Government is, on the whole, disappointed by the report’s findings and recommendations on accountability. Like many others, we feel that these leave many gaps and unanswered questions. We welcome the acknowledgement that “considerable civilian casualties” occurred during the final stages of the conflict and the recommendation that specific incidents require further investigation . But we note that many credible allegations of violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law , including from the UN Panel of Experts report , are either not addressed or only partially answered. " The Minister went on to say, “We believe that video footage , authenticated by UN Special Rapporteurs, should inform substantive, not just technical, investigations into apparent grave abuses. " Whilst the Minister welcomed some of the recommendations made in the report, he called for their “vigorous” implementation and noted the “success or failure” of the LLRC hinged on this. He carried on to reiterate that Britain “continue(d) to believe it is important that an independent, credible and thorough mechanism is put in place to investigate all allegations of grave abuses. ” See our editorial: No more excuses, it is time to act (18 Dec 2011)

A watchful eye

Four US government officials will be visiting Sri Lanka over the next two weeks, the US embassy confirmed on Thursday. The visitors include two from the US State Department - Thomas O. Melia, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, and Dr. Alyssa Ayres, Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia, as well as, Holly Vineyard, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia at the U.S. Department of Commerce, and Ambassador James A. Larocco from the Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies at the U.S. Department...

Canada demands 'decisive action' now that LLRC report released

Highlighting the Sri Lankan government's "lack of both accountability and meaningful attempts at reconciliation ", Canada's foreign affairs minister, John Baird, urged Sri Lanka to take " decisive action " following the release of the LLRC report and " demonstrate the principles of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law ." In a statement published Wednesday, Baird expressed concern that, " the report does not fully address the grave accusations of serious human rights violations " and noted that " many of the allegations outlined by the UN Secretary-General’s Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka have not been adequately addressed ". " We continue to call for an independent investigation into the credible and serious allegations raised by the UN Secretary-General’s Panel that international humanitarian law and human rights were violated by both sides in the conflict," Baird urged. Baird had raised concerns regarding accountability for war crimes , with his Sri Lankan counterpart, GL Peiris, September last year, and criticised the UN's inaction on the issue. Wednesday's statement adds to the on-going calls from a number of Canadian MPs and prime minister, for a credible, independent investigation into the allegations.

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