Six years since massacre, no closer to justice – Human Rights Watch

Sri Lanka’s failure to seek justice for the slaying of 17 aid workers in Trincomalee indicates the government’s intrinsic unwillingness to prosecute its security forces for atrocities, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said in a report marking the 6th anniversary of the killings. On August 4 2006, 17 Tamil speaking aid workers were executed by gunmen in the Action Contre la Faim (ACF) office compound in Muthur, Trincomalee. There has been neither progress in government inquiries nor any charges for the killings, despite forceful evidence of security force participation. James Ross, legal and...

‘Buddhists Behaving Badly’

Extracts from a report by William McGowan for the Foreign Affairs magazine (Emphasis by TG) See here for full report. In Sri Lanka last September, a Sinhalese mob led by some 100 Buddhist monks demolished a Muslim shrine in the ancient city of Anuradhapura. As the crowd waved Buddhist colors, gold and red, a monk set a green Muslim flag on fire. The monks claimed that the shrine was on land that had been given to the Sinhalese 2,000 years ago -- an allusion to their proprietary right over the entire island nation, as inscribed in ancient religious texts. In April, monks led nearly 2,000 Sinhalese Buddhists in a march against a mosque in Dambulla, a holy city where Sinhalese kings are believed to have taken refuge from southern Indian invaders in a vast network of caves almost two millennia ago. The highly charged -- but largely symbolic -- attack marked a "historic day," a monk who led the assault told the crowd, "a victory for those who love the [Sinhala] race, have Sinhala blood, and are Buddhists." Militant Buddhism there has its roots in an ancient narrative called the Mahavamsa (Great Chronicle), which was composed by monks in the sixth century. According to the Mahavamsa, the Buddha foresaw the demise of Buddhism in India but saw a bright future for it in Sri Lanka. "In Lanka, O Lord of Gods, shall my religion be established and flourish," he said. The Sinhalese take this as a sign that they are the Buddha's chosen people, commanded to "preserve and protect" Buddhism in its most pristine form.

India pledges economic zone in Trincomalee district

India is to set up a dedicated economic zone and pharmaceutical centre in the Trincomalee district, it announced on Thursday. The country's Industry and Textile Minister, Ananda Sharma, who is currently in Colombo, said , “We have agreed to establish a manufacturing investment zone to manufacture engineering, auto parts for exports to India,” “In the spirit of partnership we would like to create opportunities in Sri Lanka for value addition, which could be linked to manufacturing in India,” “India is Sri Lanka’s fifth largest foreign investor. Trade between both countries have grown...

SL Minister - ‘Sinister political agenda’ behind asylum seekers

A Sri Lankan Minister claimed that Tamil diaspora organisations were behind a “sinister political agenda” smuggling asylum seekers out of the island, in order to tarnish the Sri Lankan government’s reputation. Mass Media and Information Minister Keheliya Rambukwella went on to state that “deportation” is the solution, according to state-run Daily News . The Minister said that, “the continuous outflow of boats carrying Sri Lankans as asylum seekers is no longer to be considered as an activity that has been carried out by human smugglers as a lucrative trade for mere financial gains by...

Drug and sexual abuse among students increase due to absence of the LTTE – Jaffna University

The Chair of the Jaffna University Teachers Union, A. Rasakumaran, has blamed declining education on drug addiction and child abuse which has increased in the absence of the LTTE, reported Uthayan . Speaking at a press conference of Jaffna University Lecturer’s strike, Rasakumaran said: “In the absence of the LTTE, student drug abuse and child sexual abuse has increased. This has meant that conditions for learning have taken a turn for the worst as students are distracted in their thoughts and feelings. The motivation of our students to learn has been affected in every way. “Adequate housing...

Canadian Tamil arrested in Jaffna

A Tamil Canadian citizen was arrested by a police ‘Crime Prevention Force’ reports Uthayan . Nadarajah Jeyakanthan, who has lived in Canada for the past 25 years, went to Jaffna three weeks ago to visit his relatives. Jeyakanthan had been staying for 10 days at a relation’s house in Vathiri, Nelliyadi when a few people in a white van, identifiying themselves as the Colombo ‘Crime Prevention Force’ appeared outside the house on Thursday last week. They proceeded to arrest Jeyakanthan and told relatives present that there was nothing to fear and that he would be released soon, following...

Army steps up operations in East ahead of elections

The Sri Lankan Army in a joint operation with the police force, is set to intensify its operations in the Eastern Province ahead of the Provincial Council elections due to be held there next month. According to a senior police officer, raids will be conducted on locations throughout the East, where they suspect illegal activity, such as the storage of firearms, is taking place. Speaking to Ceylon Today , a police officer was quoted as saying, "We have received details from the police headquarters in Colombo to tighten security, in order to conduct the election in a free and fair manner. The...

New Zealand MPs call for international investigation and right to self-determination

Speaking at a seminar organised to remember Black July 1983, MPs and activists outlined their support for an international investigation into war crimes in Sri Lanka and offered support to the Tamil right to self-determination. See full article on TamilNet . MP Metiria Turei, leader of the Parliamentary Group as well as co-leader of the Green Party, said that her party was “determined to mount pressure to expel the Sri Lankan High Commissioner for Australia and New Zealand Commodore Tissara Samarasinghe, formerly of the Sri Lankan Navy.” As they were not prepared to “allow people associated...

'Human rights should always trump short-term, partisan political interests'

Writing in The Australian, the executive director of the Human Rights Law Centre Phil Lynch states that Australia must do more to protect asylum seekers and re-evaluate its relationship with Sri Lanka. Extracts have been reproduced below. See the full piece here . "It is well documented that the Sri Lankan government was responsible for mass human rights violations towards the end of the civil war in 2009. The Australian government has not done enough, either at the international level or through our bilateral relations, to ensure that these crimes are independently investigated and that perpetrators are held to account." "Serious human rights violations did not end in Sri Lanka with the cessation of the civil war. Arbitrary arrest, detention and even torture remain systematic and widespread, particularly against the Tamil minority." "In recent months, evidence has emerged that asylum-seekers returned to Sri Lanka are at particular risk of rights violations. Human Rights Watch has documented at least eight cases in which people who unsuccessfully sought asylum in Britain were returned to Sri Lanka and endured serious abuses, including torture and rape. There have been similar claims by Tamil asylum-seekers returned by Australia. This corroborates a May 2010 report by the Edmund Rice Centre that claimed asylum-seekers returned to Sri Lanka were detained and assaulted by Sri Lankan police." "Despite this, Australia works closely with Sri Lanka - including through financial assistance and intelligence co-operation - in preventing people from fleeing the country. The Sri Lankan Department of Immigration and Emigration receives Australian aid, and Australia's last federal budget included almost $11 million to deploy Australian police officers to Sri Lanka and elsewhere to "combat people-smuggling"." "At best, this undermines the spirit of the Refugee Convention, which gives people the right to flee persecution and seek protection. At worst, it involves Australia, at least indirectly, in exposing people to torture and other serious human rights violations. It is time for Australia to recalibrate its relationship with Sri Lanka to put human rights at the core."

Sri Lanka denies Indian oil deal

Sri Lanka's Petroleum Industries Ministry has denied recent reports in the Indian press of a deal with Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), reports Jagran Post. The ministry reportedly said, 'no negotiations or talks with IOC or any other foreign party had taken place' regarding the construction of a second refinery by the Sapugaskanda refinery in a north Colombo suburb.

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