Tamils protest as land grabs continue unabated

Hundreds of Tamils protested in Jaffna today against the continued seizure of land by the Sri Lankan government, as the government deployed hundreds of security forces personnel. Over 200 members of the security forces, including military intelligence officers, were deployed in Valikaamam North in Jaffna, as protestors demanded an end to continued land grabs by the state. The officers reportedly photographed and took videos of the protestors, as well as the Tamil politicians and Tamil journalists covering the event. [ more ]

Law Society of South Africa calls for SL Commonwealth suspension

The Law Society of South Africa (LSSA), called for the suspension of Sri Lanka from the Commonwealth, citing Sri Lanka's "breaches of the rule of law and of the independence of the judiciary, as well as the gross harassment of members of the legal profession." Supporting the resolution passed by the Commonwealth Lawyers Association (CLA) which called on the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) to please Sri Lanka on the agenda of the group's upcoming meeting on Friday and suspend Sri Lanka from the Commonwealth for "serious and persistent violations of the Commonwealth fundamental...

UK Bar Council condemns Chief Justice impeachment

The UK Bar Council, a representation of barristers across England and Wales, condemned the impeachment of the Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake, in a statement released on Tuesday. Maura McGowan QC, Chairman of the Bar, said : "The Bar Council of England and Wales is extremely concerned about the impeachment of Shirani Bandaranayake, which we believe constitutes a grave threat to the independence of the judiciary in Sri Lanka and to the Rule of Law." "The Bar Council condemns this action and seeks to offer its vocal support for judges and lawyers across Sri Lanka." "The Rule of Law is...

Only in #lka

The Sri Lankan President's son and MP, Namal Rajapaksa, shares his thoughts on the island's ethnic conflict: @ loveshan76 - In SL it was never Majority vs the Minority. It was always Terrorists vs Sri Lankan's — Namal Rajapaksa (@RajapaksaNamal) April 23, 2013

Rajapaksa hands over 3000 land deeds to Mahaweli farmers

The Sri Lankan president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, distributed 3000 land deeds to Mahaweli farming families from the Mahaweli L zone, as part of a ceremony at Weli Oya on Saturday entitled - "Farmland Rights for You that Give Golden Harvest to the Nation". Addressing those present, Rajapaksa stressed that they must "steer the country towards prosperity" and "use the land productively and not become a servant in their own land". Rajapaksa grants land deeds to Mahaweli settlers on a previous occasion - Feb 2013 The Irrigation & Water Resources Management Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva stated...

Sri Lanka rape victim will ‘go on to the end’ for justice

A Russian woman who was the victim of a vicious rape attack led by a Sri Lankan politician in a holiday resort on the south of the island on Christmas Day 2011, has vowed to carry on until justice has been served for the assault, which left her British boyfriend murdered. In a report published in the Sunday Times , the victim, 24-year-old Victoria Tkacheva feared that the men responsible would never be held accountable, commenting, “I know if Khuram was in my place he would go on to the end... That’s what I must do too”. She went on to state that she was ready to give evidence at trial, but was doubtful of accountability, given that the suspects, including Sampath Chandra Pushpa Vidanapathirana, head of the local council in Tangalle and close associate of the ruling Rajapaksa family, were freed on bail and the politician reinstated to his post last year. Tkacheva was distraught, adding, ” I was devastated when the men were freed on bail”. She went on to recount the horrific attack, which saw her raped and left with a fractured skull and her boyfriend, Red Cross worker Khuram Shaikh shot dead.

Stars to decide NPC elections date

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse has said that the date for the Northern Provincial Council elections will be set in consultation with his astrologer, during a ceremony where he handed previously Tamil land over to Sinhalese settlers. “My astrologer gives me a winning time and I will decide on the basis on what he says,” the President said at an event in Manal Aru, Mullaitheevu. Rajapakse was in Manal Aru to handover land deeds to 3,000 Sinhalese farmers and their families in the area, which was formerly inhabitated by Tamils. Manal Aru was renamed by the government into Weli Oya, as it...

'Much ado about nothing'

Writing for the Colombo Telegraph, Kumaravadivel Guruparan, a Tamil civil society activist, and attorney at law and lecturer at the University of Jaffna, outlined the facade of the proposed northern provincial elections and inadequacy of the 13th Amendment. See here for original article, extracts reproduced below: “Many ask as to whether the Tamil Civil Society’s position is pragmatic. As for our assessment of the 13th amendment – our assessment is one based on a realist analysis of the state of affairs. As to what we prescribe, if we are thinking of what is only possible, the options are very limited within the status quo. To be pragmatic should not be a call to learn to live with the oppression. To be pragmatic should not be a call to accept minimalistic solutions, which do us no good.” “The Government has made the holding of the Northern Provincial Council elections a ‘high value commodity’ for the Tamils. By promising and breaching the promise and re-promising to hold it, the Government has made the Tamil community yearn for it. The strategy seems to be to get the Tamils to ask, demand, struggle, fight for something so minimalistic; to get them to feel and identify with the Provincial Council as an institution that will solve their problems. The political leadership of the Tamils – particularly the Tamil National Alliance has fallen for this trap. It has become very difficult to get the Tamil polity to debate and discuss about what contesting in these elections might mean for the Tamil struggle for self determination and meaningful self-government. Most Tamils want to vote, purely to show their displeasure with the Government. Many Tamils actually think, quite mistakenly, that an elected TNA Chief Minister will be able to reign in the unruly Governor of the Northern Province. The defeatist mentality stemming from Mullivaaykkal reigns supreme and many actors are making convenient use of this collective despair of the Tamil people.”

Conference in Danish parliament calls for independent, international investigation

TNPF Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam addresses conference Danish and Eelam Tamil politicians, as well as activists called for an independent, international investigation into the allegations of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide at a conference in Denmark - "A forgotten conflict: Conference on Human Rights in Sri Lanka". The conference, which took place on Wednesday inside Denmark's parliamentary building, included a speakers from all four main parties of Danish politics, as well as TNPF (Tamil National People’s Front) President, Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam from the North-East. The welcome address was given by the Social Democratic MP Troels Ravn - a member of the ruling coalition.

US State Dept 2012 report details on-going abuses against Tamils

The 2012 US State Department Human Rights report, released on Friday, detailed the abuses that took continued to place through out last year, as well as pointing out that "a disproportionate number of victims of human rights violations were Tamils ." See here for full report. Extracts have been reproduced below. Executive Summary: "The major human rights problems were attacks on and harassment of civil society activists, persons viewed as Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam ( LTTE ) sympathizers, and journalists by persons allegedly tied to the government , creating an environment of fear and self-censorship ; involuntary disappearances as well as a lack of accountability for thousands who disappeared in previous years ; and widespread impunity for a broad range of human rights abuses, particularly involving police torture , and attacks on media institutions and the judiciary . Other serious human rights problems included unlawful killings by security forces and government-allied paramilitary groups, often in predominantly Tamil areas ; torture and abuse of detainees by police and security forces; poor prison conditions; and arbitrary arrest and detention by authorities." "There were restrictions on freedom of speech, press, assembly, association, and movement . While citizens generally were able to travel almost anywhere in the island, there continued to be police and military checkpoints in the north , and de facto high-security zones and other areas remained off limits to citizens. Authorities harassed journalists critical of the government and self-censorship was widespread."