Keppapulavu IDPs 'resettled' into forests

Photographs Tamilwin Tamil IDPs from Keppapulavu, supposedly 'resettled' by the Sri Lankan government earlier this week, were moved to the Suriyapuram forests by Nandikadal Lagoon, reports Uthayan and Tamilwin . See here for coverage, including an interview, on TamilNet. Dumped in little more than a clearing in the woods, families - many of whom headed by widows - have no access to drinking water, adequate shelter or food. According to Tamilwin, the families were moved by the Sri Lankan military from the Cheddikulam IDP camp to Vattrapalai school on Monday where they were told that they could return to their own homes. However, on Tuesday when the families demanded that they be allowed to return, the Sri Lankan military took them to the forests.

Sri Lanka to open embassy in Bahrain

Following the proposed closure of European embassies " that serve no purpose ", Sri Lanka has announced its latest diplomatic relocation, with a new embassy to open in Manama, Bahrain. The Bahraini foreign minister, Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmad Al Khalifa, said : "The embassy in Manama will help foster diplomatic relations and coordination in various areas and will also serve the interests of the Sri Lankan community in Bahrain."

TNA invited to New Delhi for talks

The Indian government has invited Tamil National Alliance (TNA) delegates to participate in talks with the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other delegates on 10th October. This invitation comes after President Mahinda Rajapaksa recently met with Manmohan Singh and Pranab Mukjherjee along side India’s External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna on his recent visit to India that received critical views from the main parties of Tamil Nadu. Speaking to Ceylon Today , TNA MP from Jaffna district Suresh Premachandran said they have received the invitation and expected the meeting to focus on...

Concern over Sri Lanka’s internet freedom

A report by Freedom House has named Sri Lanka as one of seven countries at risk of facing further restrictions on internet freedom. The ‘Freedom On The Net 2012’ report details how some governments have restricted freedom on the internet and are finding different ways to impose restrictions. “The findings clearly show that threats to internet freedom are becoming more diverse. "As authoritarian rulers see that blocked websites and high-profile arrests draw local and international condemnation, they are turning to murkier—but no less dangerous—methods for controlling online conversations,”...

‘Give us back our hijacked lands’ – protesters in Kilinochchi

Demonstrators led by the TNA gathered in Kilinochchi on Thursday to protest the ongoing military occupation of Tamil homelands and to demand the establishment of Tamils’ right to life. Convening outside the Kilinochchi Divisional Secretariat, protesters chanted: “Army! Leave Tamil lands now!” “Are Tamil lands High Security Zones?” “Let us live freely in our lands!” “Free Tamil political prisoners!” Along with TNA MPs and Councillors, prominent participants included leader of the Democratic People’s Front Mano Ganesan, Colombo Municipal Councillor Baskara, and former MP and current secretary-...

Sri Lanka's isolation only way forward

Nivard Cabraal’s bold claim , that events like the T20 Cricket World Cup will make the war crimes issue ‘fade away’, clearly shows that the international community’s continuation of ‘normal’ relations with Sri Lanka are critically undermining the possibility of creating a lasting peace, based on accountability and justice. The Central Bank governor’s conviction that war crimes can be made to disappear behind a facade of cultural and sporting festivity is shared by the rest of the Sri Lankan government. The continuation of normal international relations makes it unnecessary for Sri Lanka to take any meaningful steps in addressing the issues that are now central to international and Tamil demands. Sri Lanka will not need to pay any heed to repeated calls for meaningful accountability if it continues to enjoy a normal range of diplomatic contacts and indeed is even rewarded by being allowed to hold major sporting and political events.

'Time for action, not action plans'

The International Crisis Group's Sri Lanka Project Director, Alan Keenan, has slammed the Sri Lankan government's lack of action in investigating war crimes and called on the international community to demand action, not action plans from Sri Lanka. Extracts have been reproduced below. See the full article here . "Masters of prevarication, the Sri Lankan Government is once again stalling the UN's attempt to ensure an open assessment of the brutal final stages of the country's civil war. The regime is probably hoping interest will fade, but every day it refuses a fair examination of some 40,000 civilian deaths is another small step away from reconciliation between the Sinhalese-dominated state and Tamils, and toward the next ethnic conflict. " " Colombo's contempt for the international community seems to know no bounds. Six months after the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) requested that Sri Lanka address its culture of impunity and badly damaged rule of law, the regime has taken no concrete action. "

Sri Lanka extends ‘steadfast support’ to Palestinian people

The Sri Lankan government has expressed concern over the hardships faced by the Palestinian people. Speaking at the 21st UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva, the Sri Lankan representative said, “Sri Lanka […] remains steadfast in its unequivocal support to the people and the Government of Palestine for their just struggle to achieve the right of statehood”, reported the Daily Mirror . Sri Lanka also urged the Israeli government to lift the blockade on the Gaza strip and expressed its conviction that Palestine would soon assume its rightful place at the United Nations. The permanent...

Civil society groups write to Commonwealth Sec Gen on SL

Seven international civil society and rights groups have urged the Commonwealth Secretary General to re-examine Sri Lanka in light of the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 2013 (CHOGM) due to be held in Sri Lanka in March. See here for full letter. Strongly criticising reports that the Secretary General was urging the Canadian prime minister to change his mind on a threatened boycott of the event, the groups said, "The Commonwealth Secretariat must lay down benchmarks of discernible, quantifiable and measurable steps that the government of Sri Lanka must take before it can hope to host a CHOGM that has the wholehearted participation of both Heads of Governments and civil society ". The groups, including Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, Human Rights Law Centre (Australia), Human Rights Watch, Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace & Justice and United Nations Association of the UK, listed a 'minimum' benchmark as: 1. Fully restore the rule of law; 2. Lift restrictions on the enjoyment of all fundamental freedoms for all people within its borders ;

'Yet to see' progress says Canadian minister

Speaking to Tamil Canadian, Canadian MP for Ajax - Pickering, Chris Alexander, expressed scepticism of Sri Lanka's claims of change, asserting that Sri Lanka's "there is a new action plan put forward by the government this summer – but has not translate into change in the ground". See here for full interview by Tamil Canadian, extracts reproduced below: “Human right is not respected by and large... Peace is not a durable one, and the situation will not be satisfactory from our perspective until certain of the major concerns are addressed,” “We saw north of country and same is true in many...