Floods add to IDP woes in Vanni

Over 6500 families have been badly affected by floods in the Vanni, as irrigation tanks overflowed and villages were inundated with flood water. Government officials confirmed that over 3000 families in Mullaitivu alone have sought out temporary accommodation so far, but that there were still vast areas that they have been unable to reach, leaving the true figure of affected people unknown. The main roads linking Mullaitivu to Jaffna and Paranthan to Pudukudirrippu have been closed due to the heavy flooding. Many of the families in the Vanni have been living in makeshift shelters since being...

UK parliamentarians impede justice

The Sri Lankan high commissioner to the United Kingdom, Chris Nonis, has presented Sri Lanka’s controversial LLRC report to selected British Parliamentarians at the houses of parliament on Tuesday. According to the official government news portal, www.news.lk , Chris Nonis explained ‘that the holistic approach of the LLRC is entirely consistent with restorative justice embedded with accountability.’ Several MPs and Lords attended the meeting, but unlike the US state department and human rights organisation like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, no criticism of the LLRC was reported. An official statement by the British foreign office regarding the LLRC is yet to be made, however parliamentarians and others who spoke at the event, displayed incredible ignorance about Sri Lanka and its history of inquiries into itself.

TNPF demand international investigation into genocide

The Tamil National People Front (TNPF) - stated there was an " urgent need " for an international, independent investigation , and urged international action of the continuing " genocide " of the Tamil nation, reported Tamilnet on Tuesday. During a press briefing in Jaffna, Vice President of the TNPF, Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam said, "The report places the blame on the LTTE and other tamil groups. We can no longer remain patient . There is urgent need for the International Community to conduct an independent investigation. What happened is genocide. While the war ended two and a half years ago, structural genocide against Tamil people is continuing , and International community should not hesitate to raise its voices." "While Colombo regards any independent investigation into war crimes as a threat its sovereignty, we demand that all dastardly crimes and instruments of oppression carried out against the Tamil people from 1948 , the year of independence, need to be presented as evidence before an independent panel, and perpetrators of the crimes should be brought to justice ."

US has ‘concerns’ over LLRC

In a briefing with the press, US State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland has stated that the US has “concerns” over Sri Lanka’s Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission and alleged that there were “gaps” in the report. Speaking on Monday, Nuland told reporters, “While we’re still studying the full report, I do have to say that we have concerns that the report, nonetheless, does not fully address all the allegations of serious human rights violations that occurred in the final phase of the conflict. So this leaves questions about accountability and – for those allegations, and so we...

ICG - militarised North-East leading to women's insecurity

Detailing the "lack of security" faced by Tamil women across the North-East, in the aftermath of the armed conflict, International Crisis Group (ICG) detailed how " the heavily militarised and centralised control of the north and east – with almost exclusively male, Sinhalese security forces " raises problems for Tamil women in terms of their "safety, sense of security and ability to access assistance", in a report published Tuesday. See here for report - Sri Lanka: Women’s Insecurity in the North and East - in full. Extracts reproduced below: "Women in Sri Lanka’s predominantly Tamil-speaking north and east are facing a desperate lack of security in the aftermath of the long civil war." "Today many still live in fear of violence from various sources. Those who fall victim to it have little means of redress. Women’s economic security is precarious, and their physical mobility is limited. The heavily militarised and centralised control of the north and east – with almost exclusively male, Sinhalese security forces – raises particular problems for women there in terms of their safety, sense of security and ability to access assistance ." "They have little control over their lives and no reliable institutions to turn to. The government has mostly dismissed women’s security issues and exacerbated fears , especially in the north and east. The international community has failed to appreciate and respond effectively to the challenges faced by women and girls in the former war zone . A concerted and immediate effort to empower and protect them is needed." " The fact that women must rely on the military for everyday needs not only puts them at greater risk of gender-based violence, but also prevents them from building their own capacity within communities ."

A common wealth of incompetence aids impunity

The Commonwealth Secretary General, Kamalesh Sharma, said on Tuesday that he hoped the LLRC report would "advance the cause of accountability", adding, "It is for the government and people of Sri Lanka to chart their country''s way forward after the military defeat of the forces of terrorism," "The Commonwealth, as a partner of Sri Lanka, which is a founder member of the modern Commonwealth, remains ready to assist the government in dealing with the challenges of building a harmonious and sustainable peace."

Anti-conversion bill may look to make a comeback

Efforts are being made by the ultra Sinhala-Buddhist nationalist JHU party to reinstate an “anti-conversion” law, making it illegal for an individual to change religions, except in special circumstances with a magistrates’ permission. According to the Vatican news agency, Agenzia Fides , local sources have said the JHU has sees other religions on the island as “contamination for the country”, and has renewed efforts to pass the law, which they have been pushing for the last 7 years. The JHU currently have 9 monks as Members of Parliament. This follows the Ministry of Religious Affairs...

Highest ever defence budget passed

The Sri Lankan government has passed the highest defence budget in history Tuesday, after it passed in Parliament with a majority vote. The budget comes despite the war having officially ended more than two and a half years ago. The defense budget has now increased from 215 billion rupees (about 1.92 billion U.S. dollars) in 2011 to 230 billion rupees (about 2.1 billion U.S. dollars) in 2012. Research organization Verite commented to Shanghai Daily , "It is clear from the lack of opposition protest that large defense expenditure, despite the end of the war, has become normal in Sri Lanka."...

Sampanthan squeaks

The leader of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) added his voice on Monday, to the now deafening call of the Tamil nation, and human rights activists worldwide, for an independent, international investigation. Sampanthan urged the international community to ensure a "mechanism for accountability", stating that the LLRC report “ categorically fails to effectively and meaningfully deal with issues of accountability ”. Acknoweledging that “ the findings of the LLRC offend the dignity of these victims ”, Sampanthan added, “The LLRC concludes that, on these issues, the government is not responsible...

Sri Lankan army 'assassinated surrendering Tamils' - military official

A former senior military official in the Sri Lankan army states that the army " assassinated surrendering Tamils " reports The Daily Telegraph newspaper in the UK Sunday - Sri Lankan army commanders 'assassinated surrendering Tamils' (19/12/11). The witness, a major general, states that the defence secretary, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, gave " some instructions to a field commander to get rid of those LTTE [Tamil Tiger] cadres [who] are surrendering without adhering to normal procedures ". The witness added that such instructions " should come from either the secretary of the defence, with the...