Activists in New York demand 'Justice for Trinco 5'

Over 700 activists attended Amnesty International's annual 'Get on the Bus for Human Rights' event in New York on Friday, calling for justice, accountability, and an end to human rights abuses in Sri Lanka, Burma, Indonesia and Tibet. Activists called on the Sri Lankan government to investigate and prosecute those responsible for the Trinco-5 killings of Ragihar Manoharan and his fellow four students in Trincomalee on 2nd January 2006. J.S. Tissainayagam, a former Sunday Times journalist imprisoned by the Sri Lankan government in 2008, spoke at this year's event, detailing the Sri Lankan government's failure to deliver justice and his own ordeal during detention.

Australia urged to address asylum seeker torture concerns

Human Rights Watch and Human Rights Law Centre has called on the Australian government to raise the issue of asylum seekers being tortured, when Immigration Minister Chris Bowen visits the Sri Lanka later this week. With Australia “working closely” with Sri Lanka regarding asylum seekers fleeing the country, the Minister is set to visit Sri Lanka from May 2nd to 4th. Having documented at least 8 cases of asylum seekers in the UK being tortured or raped upon their return to Sri Lanka, Phil Lynch, executive director of the Human Rights Law Centre said , “Rejected asylum seekers returned to Sri...

Sri Lanka indignant at UK after FCO report

The UK has no right to accuse Sri Lanka of not doing enough to address accountability of the war, said Sri lanka's deputy external affairs minister Neomal Perera on Tuesday after the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office released a report on Monday concluding that significant progress was still needed. Perera said , "How can they say we have not done enough? On what basis are they saying that?" "The Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) handed over its final report only in December last year so how can the UK report say we did not do enough to address the issues mentioned. We have...

Currency intervention threatened with Sri Lanka stumped

The Secretary to the Treasury has told reporters that Sri Lanka may revert back to intervening in the country’s exchange rates, after the fast falling rupee hit record lows this week, leaving Sri Lankan officials perplexed. P. B. Jayasundera told reporters, " I honestly can't see any rationality behind the behaviour of either in the exchange rate or interest rate. " "If the element of speculation goes beyond a tolerable level that is the time the market should intervene not by just simply releasing foreign exchange, (but) probably with the announcement of two rates. If that is what speculators are looking for, the government is quite competent in managing it." The rupee has fallen 12.3 percent since February, after the government gave in to IMF pressure and halted their policy of artificially propping up the rupee. Sri Lanka is estimated to have spent more than $2.6 billion to help support the value of the rupee, depleting its reserves by almost a third. See our earlier posts: Sri Lanka’s emerging economic crisis (18 Mar 2012) Prices rise as Mahinda Economics unwinds (16 Feb 2012) Mahinda Economics (21 Sep 2011) It hit a record 133.5 to the dollar last week, but has since recovered slightly to just over 130. However, Jayasundera was wary of the ruppe falling to the 125 to the dollar mark, stating, "There is no economic or fundamental reasons for the rupee to go beyond 125 a dollar. There is no reason why the rate goes beyond this because the policy actions are already in place." Meanwhile, Sri Lanka may delay plans to stop the supply of dollars to meet oil import bills, originally set for May. The plans would have forced the state-owned Ceylon Petroleum Corporation to buy dollars from the market rather than the state-owned Central Bank, increasing pressure on the rupee.

U.S. Congressman calls for international investigation

U.S Congressman Bill Johnson (R) from Ohio reiterated calls for an international investigation and accountability in Sri Lanka while meeting Tamil and Indian constituents, as he campaigned for re-election in November. Representative Johnson was welcomed with a flower garland from the host and lit the traditional oil lamp. Speaking to the Tamil Guardian regarding the recent UN discovery of cluster bombs in the North-East, representative Johnson said, “ That is absolutely atrocious and they must be held accountable. Like I said earlier, it never ceases to amaze me what one group of human beings...

Eelam flag seen at Jaffna May Day Rally

Video footage of Tuesday’s May Day rally in Jaffna, organised by the UNP and TNA, has shown a man waving the Tamil Eelam national flag whilst marching with the procession. The footage, which has been broadcast on state TV, shows an unknown man flourishing the Tamil Eelam flag as the procession marched through. Further footage shows another unknown man, unbuttoning his shirt to reveal a T-shirt with a map of Tamil Eelam outlined on it.

Rajapakse will fight foreign 'conspiracies'

President Mahinda Rajapakse has said that he will not allow international ‘conspiracies’ under the guise of human rights to break Sri Lanka. Addressing a May Day rally Tuesday in Colombo, the Sri Lankan president said "the unity of working people is essential to rebuild this nation". "I am confident that you will not deviate from this task and I promise that no outside influences will de-rail the intentions of this government with talk over human rights," Xinhua quoted the president as saying.

Prasanna set to flee permanently this week

Major General Prasanna de Silva, Sri Lanka's military attache at the high commission in London, has been reported to be planning his permanent departure back to Sri Lanka this week, after growing calls to declare him a persona non grata. A spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs has confirmed that the vacant position caused by de Silva’s permanent return is yet to be filled. Earlier this month, Labour MP for Mitcham and Mordem, Siobhain McDonagh called for de Silva to be questioned for his involvement in alleged war crimes before being allowed to leave. See our earlier posts: UK MP...

UK ‘concerned’ about human rights in Sri Lanka

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has released its annual human rights report and has listed Sri Lanka as a country of concern, along with countries such as North Korea, Iran, Russia and Syria. Foreign Secretary William Hague spoke at the launch of the report in London on Monday and welcomed the many positive moves towards democracy that had occurred around the world in the past year. Mr Hague added that Britain’s main focus will be on those countries, whose human rights have not shown any improvements or deteriorated over the past year. “Human rights is an indivisible part of our...

Anyone but the Indians

Sri Lanka imports 90% of its oil from Iran, and w ith US-EU sanctions on Iran looming, needs to source oil elsewhere. But its sole refinery, at Sapugaskanda, needs upgrading if it is to refine oil from other countries. Yet, Sri Lanka has rejected an offer by the state-owned Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) to do this. Instead, Colombo will seek expressions of interest from others to do the work, which it claims will cost $500m. The reason, according to Petroleum Minister Susil Premjayantha, is IOC already operates a majority of fuel stations in Sri Lanka and increases fuel prices at will...