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."

Liberals call for action against Sri Lanka at CMAG

The Liberal Party in Canada has condemned the ongoing violence in Sri Lanka and called for the Conservative government to take action at the upcoming Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) meeting on Friday. Liberal MP Bob Rae said in a statement: “The reports of recent attacks at the Uthayan newspaper and on-going violence in Sri Lanka are deeply concerning. "Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs has not matched his rhetoric on Sri Lanka with concrete, strong actions. He must work to persuade members of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) to take collective action against...

Criminal remarks

A parliamentarian of a major Tamil Party in the north, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), was interrogated by Sri Lanka's Criminal Investigation Department (CID), over comments he made regarding the Sri Lankan Army. The TNA parliamentarian, Suresh Premachandran told media that the investigations were concerning comments, outlining the intense military occupation of the north, he made in an interview with the 'Times of India'. Premachandran was questioned for 2 hours by the Sri Lankan CID after failing to respond to an initial summoning for 12th April. The Jaffna district MP Premachandran is...

Statues and emblems not enough for BBS

In an interview to Sri Lanka’s Daily Financial Times, the Chief Executive Officer of Bodu Bala Sena has stated that his group’s aim is to ensure “true Buddhism” is practised in the country, adding that the presence of Buddha statues across the island and Buddhist symbols in government logos was not enough. The group, a Sinhala translation of ‘Buddhist Power Force’, is a “civil society movement led by monks”, claimed Dilantha Withange, stating in his interview , “According to our Constitution, Buddhism should be given foremost priority. But we believe this is not practiced in Sri Lanka at present. Buddhism is not given due recognition in this country. We may have the dharma chakra in our national emblem; there may be Buddhist statues in every corner in the country; but the question is whether Buddhism is properly practiced in this country .” Since the end of the war Sri Lanka has rapidly escalated its construction of Buddha statues and other Buddhist sites across the Tamil homeland in the North-East of the island. Withange also commented, “Our country was under imperialists for a long period of time. They ruined the roots of Buddhism in this country. Although they left, our leaders continued their agendas. Various leaders come into power labelling themselves as Buddhists and patriots, but they all follow what the British and others did. Then the war worsened things. Our prime objective is to put an end to this and establish a Buddhist society in our country once again .” “Meanwhile, although the Constitution says foremost priority should be given to Buddhism, it doesn’t say anywhere that Buddhism is our State religion. Countries like Bangladesh clearly say that Islam is their State religion. We need to put things in the right place. That is what we want. This is a country that doesn’t even practice the five basic principles of Buddhism. We need to change this.”

Further increases in price of bakery product

Bread prices in Sri Lanka are set to increase, after the government hiked electricity tariffs, despite widespread opposition. The All Ceylon Bakery Owners' Association said the increase in electricity tariffs is affecting the industry and consequently prices of bakery goods would be increased. The Association said the price of gas was increased first, followed by a fuel price hike and now the electricity tariffs. "These steps will make bakers lose whatever profits they earn and therefore, the increase in prices of bakery goods was imminent," the Association said . The US sought a meeting with...

The philosophy behind SL 'reconciliation'

Permanent Representative to the UN, Palitha Kohona, told the UN General Assembly that Sri Lanka was not particularly interested in finding 'culprits'. Having mentioned the state's benevolent decision to not take 'punitive legal action' against many captured cadres and LTTE leaders, Kohona also managed to eloquently pitch Sri Lanka's reverence of impunity along with its disinterest in accountability: “Our underlying philosophy is that reconciliation is not about finding culprits to punish," See also: It wasn't the army, says the army - volume II

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