Sri Lankan banks in the North stop issuing loans

A sudden decision by Sri Lankan public and private sector banks in the north to stop issuing loans has left the Tamil business community in a precarious situation. The banks subsequently increased the rate of interest on existing loans by 4 percent, reported TamilNet . As a result of being unable to repay the new interest on their existing loans, several Tamil traders have had to close their businesses. The president of the Jaffna Chamber of Commerce, Mr.R Jayasekaram, stressed that the sudden termination of issuing loans to businesses was the starting point for an economic crisis for the...

HRW calls for halt in deportations to Sri Lanka

Human Rights Watch (HRW) have issued a press release demanding that the UK suspend immediately deportations of Tamils with links to the LTTE or those that may have been politically active against the Sri Lankan authorities in the UK. Extracts from the press release follow: “The Sri Lankan security forces have long used torture against people deemed to be linked to the LTTE,and growing evidence indicates that Tamils who have been politically active abroad in peaceful opposition to the government may be subject to torture and other ill-treatment.

Asylum seekers shifted offshore by Australia

30 asylum seekers who arrived from Sri Lanka have been transferred from Christmas Island to Nauru, as Australia restarted its controversial offshore processing scheme. The men will remain at a camp in the Pacific island of Nauru in temporary tents until permanent accommodation has been constructed. They will stay on the island until their claims for asylum have been processed. The move was criticised by human rights groups including the Australian Human Rights Commission who rebuked the use of five-man tents to house the asylum seekers and their ambiguous legal rights. Australian Human Rights...

UK plans to deport more Tamils ‘to face torture’

The British Border and Immigration Agency is planning to deport hundreds of Tamils, reported The Independent . Three charter planes are reported to have been hired by the British government, with two scheduled to depart Wednesday and one on Thursday next week. There have been several instances of Tamil deportees being tortured on their arrival in Sri Lanka. The newspaper reported that although there are criminals and visa overstayers, several of those deported are failed asylum seekers. The Independent said it has seen a new report which details the cases of 24 individuals from Sri Lanka who returned voluntarily were tortured and interrogated. David Mepham, the UK head of Human Rights Watch, said the organisation had also documented several cases of tortured Tamils. "Given the very serious risk of torture facing many Tamils returned from this country, the UK should immediately impose a moratorium on these returns, pending a thorough review of UK policy in this area and the introduction of new risk assessment guidelines."

Blake reiterates call for accountability and power-sharing talks

The US Assistant Sectretary of State for South and Central Asia, Robert O'Blake, urged the Sri Lankan government to show "accelerated progress" in ensuring political rights for Tamils in the North-East. Speaking to journalists during a three day tour of Sri Lanka and the North-East, Blake said he had " emphasised the importance of progress in reducing the role and profile of the military in the North, and full respect for human rights ." Reiterating the call to implement the recommendations of the LLRC and National Action Plan, Blake “ encouraged an early resumption of talks between the TNA...

SL an 'uphill battle' for foreign investors - Blake

Addressing the American Chamber of Commerce on Friday, the US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Robert O'Blake described that foreign investors found Sri Lanka's marketplace an " uphill battle " although it was 3 years after the end of the armed conflict. Highlighting " opaque " rules, " unpredictable government regulations " and " corruption " as key causes of poor foreign investment, Blake urged Sri Lanka to open up the market, particularly through the liberalisation of rules for foreign direct investment. See here for Blake's address in full. Extracts published below: "USAID has established Public-Private Alliances with Sri Lankan companies to expand operations into the North and East to create new opportunities and better livelihoods. These partnerships are helping to re-activate the local economies of the North and East and laying the groundwork for sustainable economic growth that provides opportunities for all Sri Lankans. We believe that creating economic opportunity must go hand in hand with political reconciliation ."

Tamil politicians highlight ongoing ‘systemic sinhalisation’

Speaking after an investigatory visit to the former war zones of Mullaitivu, Vadamaradchchi east, Kokkilai and Naayaru areas, the leader of the Tamil National People’s Front (TNPF), Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam said that there is currently a systematic campaign, with a motive to “eliminate the very existence of the traditional Tamil nation as a whole”, reported JDS on Friday. Describing an evident mechanism that was decimating the traditional Tamil nation in the area, Ponnambalam said, "While preventing the war-affected Tamil people from carrying out fishing livelihood in their native places, the government and the security forces have established systematic Sinhala settlements in these areas and allowed them to carryout fishing at their will with full protection.”

'A clear mission to destroy all of us because we were Tamil' - witness tells TAG

Eye witness testimonies of the events of 2009 describe how Tamils were deliberately targeted by the Sri Lankan armed forces during the final stages of the conflict, and how such targetting continues despite the government's claims of victory. The testimonies, gathered by researchers at the rights group, Tamils Against Genocide (TAG), are detailed within the group's submission to the UN Human Rights Council's, 2nd cycle Universal Periodic Review (UPR) session on Sri Lanka next month. See here for TAG's UPR submission in full. Extracts of eye witness testimonies published below: One Tamil...

Douglas must come to Tamil Nadu says public prosecutor

Dismissing Douglas Devananda's recent attempt to fight his Indian arrest warrant through video conferencing from Colombo, the Tamil Nadu's public prosecutor M Prabhavathy, said: "The accused Anandan [Devananda's former alias] was arrested in the year 1986, now Douglas Devananda claims that he is the said Anandan who is holding a constitutional seat now." "Unless he presents himself before the court and is properly identified, there is every possibility of miscarriage of justice, the police said, adding that Douglas had not stated any valid reason as to what prevented him from appearing before...

UK parliament debates human rights violations faced by professionals in Sri Lanka

The British Parliament debated the challenges of human rights violations faced by professionals on Wednesday, with a Conservative party report naming Sri Lanka as a region of the world where these violations occur. Leading the debate, Conservative MP Robert Buckland stated, "It is also known that in conflict zones, medical professionals are deliberately targeted by those involved. For example, in Sri Lanka, during the final stages of the civil war, the military was accused of intentionally shelling field hospitals, killing doctors and other medical professionals. The United Nations report of...