More questions than answers: Minister Alistair Burt on UK arms to Sri Lanka

Following The Independent newspaper’s report on the British government’s approval of licences for the export to Sri Lanka of over £3m worth of arms - in just one three month period last year – the UK minister responsible for Sri Lanka, Alistair Burt has written to the paper seeking to clarify the transfer of hundreds of assault rifles and large quantities of ammunition amongst other weapons. However, Mr. Burt’s response raises as many questions as The Independent’s article.

SL's attempts at censoring in the UN

Sri Lanka's UN mission has written to the Human Rights Council, trying to bar an upcoming screening of a documentary in its premises. The Channel 4 documentary "No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka" is due to be screened on Friday, at the Palais de Nations, an event organised by Human Rights Watch (HRW), Amnesty International and FIFDH Geneve. Permanent Representative, Ravinatha Aryasinha, accused the NGOs in his letter of "perpetrating unsubstantiated and politically motivated acts against countries in the Council," as well as calling the material "morphed and diabolical". See here...

United Nations urged to investigate mass grave

The United Nations Working Group on Enforced Disappearances has been urged to conduct a thorough inquiry into the recently unearthed mass grave in Matale. The Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC), an independent regional non-governmental organisation, suggested in a written statement, that the United Nations working group should conduct an independent inquiry into the remains of 200 or more persons found in Matale. Expressing concern that the grave may be neglected, the organisation went on to suggest that the international community should provide the Sri Lankan government with the expertise,...

Land sales to 'foreigners' banned

Sri Lanka has announced that it has decided to ban the sale of all state and private land to 'foreigners', according to Media and Information Minister Keheliya Rambukwella. The move was approved by Sri Lanka's cabinet and will be brought to Parliament. It will also see the ban on transfer of land on a freehold basis to foreigners, including land which is already owned by foeigners. See report from Lanka Busniess Online here . See our earlier post: Sri Lanka to ban sale of land to 'foreigners' (12 February 2013)

'Sinhala Only' education documents still in place

Tamil teachers continue to face continued discrimination with documents being provided in Sinhala only, rather than in Tamil, charged the Ceylon Teachers Union. CTU General Secretary Joseph Stalin stated , “Most of the teachers are employed in Tamil schools and there isn’t a single form in the Tamil language. All documents and circulars in the Provincial Education Zone are in Sinhala, and this is extremely unfair on the Tamil teachers. Nothing is done to rectify this despite National Languages Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara’s claims that every document will be trilingual". Citing the town of...

India to vote against SL at UNHRC

India will vote against Sri Lanka, in support of a US backed resolution at the UN Human Rights Council Session (UNHRC) in March. The Hindu reports that Minister V Narayanasamy told reporters that PM Manmohan Singh had promised to support the resolution against Sri Lanka. Narayansamy said that he along with Tamil Nadu MPs had "called on the Prime Minister and insisted that he support the resolution against Sri Lanka on war crimes. He promised to do so."

Witnesses confirm SL army shot surrendered LTTE political leaders

In an article published on Sunday in The Independent, former BBC journalist and author of Still Counting The Dead, Frances Harrison, details how two witnesses have come forward to state how they saw slain Tamil political leaders surrender to the Sri Lankan military during the infamous 'white flag incident'. See here for full article, extracts have been published below: 'The two new witnesses in what has become known as “the white flag incident” can testify they independently saw from different vantage points the Tamil Tiger leaders accepted into the custody of the Sri Lankan military and...

Preparing for Geneva...

Speaking at the 5th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between Sri Lanka and Russia, the Russian ambassador to Sri Lanka, Alexander Karchava, assured Sri Lanka that Russia will take every possible opportunity to secure the support of the UNHRC member countries against a possible resolution on Sri Lanka, that will likely be tabled at the forthcoming United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) sessions. Although Russia does not hold membership of the council this year, the ambassador affirmed that he had close contact with the nations that had become members of the council this...

Tamil political prisoner starts hunger strike

A Tamil political prisoner in Colombo has undertaken a hunger strike to demand the release of political prisoners. T Prabhakaran, who is being held in the Welikada prison, started a fast unto death on Wednesday. Explaining his protest in an appeal to political leaders, human rights activists and religious leader, Prabhakaran wrote that despite many hunger strikes having taken place in the past and the government offering many promises, none of these have been fulfilled. In the letter, Prabhakran outlined that in June 2012, Special Commissioner Gamini Kulatunge obtained signatures from all the...

Karuna criticises President's comments

DMK president M Karunanadhi, criticised Indian President Pranab Mukherjee's comments in his address to Parliament on engagement with Sri Lanka. Karunanidhi said in a statement: “When the entire world has taken note of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s dictatorial policies and condemned him as an international war criminal, I am not able to understand why the President in his address should talk about improving the country’s relationship with Sri Lanka. When will India understand the man who sports a smiling face but harbours a heart full of poisonous vengeance?” “There are empty words...

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