British Tamil youth honour Murugathasan

Honouring Murugathasan Varnakulasingham - the Tamil youth who, outraged at international apathy and inaction in the face of the genocide of Tamils, self-immolated in protest outside the United Nations in Geneva on 12th February 2009 - young British Tamils at the Tamil Youth Organisation UK (TYO-UK) erected a memorial stone in his memory.

Why does the Tory MP for Stockton care so much about Sri Lanka?

The Independent have released a report questioning why Conservative backbench MP James Wharton, whose constituency has neither a significant Tamil nor Sinhala community, has travelled to Sri Lanka four times in nine months and made some controversial statements in Parliament defending Sri Lanka’s actions at the end of the war. See here for full report. Extracts reproduced below: “Questioned by The Independent over the level of his involvement in Sri Lanka affairs, Mr Wharton said: “I am very much not… the Sri Lankan government’s cheerleader.”” “Mr Wharton spoke out during a Parliamentary debate on Sri Lanka in February this year, saying that a report by a United Nations panel of experts , which detailed allegations of human rights violations by the Sri Lanka government and the rebel Tamil Tigers during the civil war, should be treated with caution. “Is it not clear that, while the report sets out a narrative and raises legitimate concerns, it must not be taken as a factual account?” he asked.” “Asked about the frequency of his visits to Sri Lanka and the country’s High Commission in London he said: “I don’t think it’s disproportionate or unreasonable, no.””

Australia deports 100 asylum seekers on chartered flight

The Australian government has deported 100 failed asylum seekers to Sri Lanka, on a specially chartered Royal Australian Air Force flight. The recent removal is the single largest group to have been sent to Sri Lanka, and the ninth this month according to the Sri Lankan government. It also brings the total number of people deported from Australia to Sri Lanka to 425 since August 13th, when Australia adopted new immigration policies. Immigration Minister Chris Bowen told reporters that those being deported were “economic refugees”, saying , “Our humanitarian programme is for people who are at...

SL Navy attacks Tamil Nadu fishermen... again

The Sri Lankan Navy has once again been accused of attacking fishermen from Tamil Nadu as they went fishing in the Palk Straits. The four fishermen alleged that the navy attacked them with sticks, stones and bottles, as well as damaging their boats and fishing nets. In addition, the navy is accused of seizing their GPS and wireless equipment. The Sunday Times however reported that a senior naval official completely denied the allegations, quoting him as saying , "There is absolutely no truth in these allegations which are apparently politically motivated by certain individuals across the Palk...

GSP+ loss takes its toll on textile industry

According to the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce's data, Sri Lanka’s export during the first quarter of FY 13 earnings from textile and garments has declined 4.3 percent. (See here and here ). In 2000, garment exports accounted for 49 percent of the country’s total export, by 2011 that margin dropped to 38 percent. Industry analysts believe the decline is a reflection of the loss of EU’s GSP (Generalized System of Preferences) plus based on Sri Lanka’s poor human rights track record. European Union accounts for nearly 50 percent of apparel exports with the US being the second largest. It has been...

'Ethical' Unilever endorses Sri Lankan policies

The global head of Unilever Paul Polman has visited Sri Lanka and approved the opening of a new factory in Kalatura in the Western district. The $50 million plant was to be inaugurated by Mr Polman this week. Unilever produces 95% of its products sold on the island and the new plant is likely to increase local manufacturing and support export of goods made in Sri Lanka. While calls for a boycott of Sri Lanka are increasing, Unilever, who was named as one of the world's most ethical companies , is endorsing the government's genocidal activities against the Tamil people, by continuing...

‘Victory Stupa’ construction blessed with treasure

A ‘Victory Stupa’ currently being constructed in Anuradhapura was blessed with “treasure” and a large Sinhala-inscribed tablet, at a ceremony coinciding with President Rajapaksa’s birthday to “shower blessings on him”, according to the country’s Ministry of Defence. The stupa is the first in a set that is to be built across all provinces in the island. See our earlier post: Buddhist Stupas for Army to be built in all provinces (06 February 2012) According to the Ministry of Defence , the stupa is “a brainchild of HE the President is underway under the directions of Secretary Defence and Urban...

Karunanidhi hopes for UN intervention

Tamil Nadu opposition leader M Karunanidhi said he was “hopeful” that the UN will intervene in Sri Lanka and take up Tamil grievances, reported The Hindu . Claiming credit for India’s vote for the UN resolution in March, Karunanidhi said that his DMK would continue to press Delhi to support his demand for a referendum. “I believe these efforts will definitely bear fruit. We have submitted TESO resolutions on the way forward to both the UN Human Rights Council and the UN headquarters. We are sure they will consider the issue at an appropriate time and take suitable action,” he said to...

A military boon

Photograph The Island The Commander of the Sri Lankan security force deployed in Jaffna, Major General Mahinda Hathurusinghe bestowed a newly built house to a family in Sunnaakam on Tuesday. The Island reports that the army has constructed 1780 houses in the Jaffna peninsula. See also: The army taketh and the army giveth (16 Aug 2012)

ICG: Tamil political power and identity under 'sustained assault'

In its latest report, entitled, 'Sri Lanka: Tamil politics and the Quest for a Political Solution', the International Crisis Group (ICG) criticised the Sri Lankan government's refusal to negotiate seriously towards a power sharing agreement, arguing that such a refusal was " increasing ethnic tensions and damaging prospects for lasting peace ." Highlighting the " sustained assault " against " Tamil political power and identity " in the North-East, the ICG said the government's military and economic policies were " institutionalising " a Sinhala nationalist thinking that " explicitly rejects a privileged Tamil character ". Arguing that the " de facto military occupation " and " biased economic development policies appear designed to undermine Tamils’ ability to claim the north and east as their homeland ," the ICG said that " for many Tamils, this confirms their long-held belief that it was only the LTTE’s guns that placed their concerns and need for power sharing on the political agenda ." In a list of recommendations to various parties, the ICG called on the international community, including China, India and the US to ensure a range of actions that it argued "pave the way for a lasting political solution" are met. These included fulfilment of the March 2012 UNHRC resolution and a credible northern provincial council election by early 2013. The ICG went on to urge the Secretariat and member states of the Commonwealth to insist that the Sri Lankan government fulfils these tasks, " and agree that in the event it fails to do so, the October 2013 Commonwealth heads of government meeting will be moved from Colombo to an alternative location ." See here for full report.