TNA councillors go into hiding after threats

Five councillors from the Tamil National Alliance have fled from the Eastern province following threats to support the government and are now in hiding in Colombo. TNA leader R Sampanthan stated that unidentified persons threatened the councillors to support the ruling UPFA, reports Colombo Page. TamilNet previously reported that each councillor was offered 50 million rupees in cash as well as a vehicle and house in Colombo. Sampanthan confirmed that the councillors have fled from the Eastern province and gone into hiding in Colombo. See our TGView on the Eastern Province elections here .

Indian General admits training of Sri Lankan Army

The Indian Army’s Southern Command chief, Lt Gen A.K. Singh has admitted that the Sri Lankan Army takes part in a ‘diverse’ training programme with Indian security forces. Speaking after a passing out ceremony of new cadets in Chennai, Lt Gen Singh said that the Sri Lankan army’s ‘expertise' is due to the training provided by India. “With the Sri Lankan Army, we have an ongoing training programme. It is very diverse.” said Lt Gen Singh when a reporter questioned him about training provided to Sri Lanka. “I think the Sri Lankan Army acknowledges that their expertise in various fields is...

TNA hold talks with SLMC

The TNA and the SLMC held talks on Sunday reported the Jaffna newspaper Uthayan. Speaking on Sunday, the TNA leader R. Sampanthan, confirmed that the TNA is currently in discussion with the SLMC and his counterpart, Rauf Hakeem, regarding the establishment of a minority government in the Eastern Province. Sampanthan said, the TNA was prepared to appoint a Tamil speaking Muslim as Chief Minister in the East, but he could not comment on the SLMC's discussions with the UPFA, nor what their final decision would be.

Premadasa threatened war with India

President Premadasa threatened to go to war with India in 1989 if the Indian military did not withdraw its troops, revealed the former Indian High Commissioner to Colombo, Lakhan Lal Mehrotra. According to Mehrotra if India did not withdraw, Premadasa threatened that he would claim on state TV that Sri Lankan forces had captured the North-East, saying, “and then if the IPKF (Indian Peace Keeping Force) resented, there would be hostility and war,” Mehrotra is said to have replied, “Excellency, I have come here to discuss peace with you, but if you want war you will have it.” Commenting on that...

Sri Lanka’s excuses at UN Panel Discussion

Speaking at the 21st session of the UN Human Rights Council earlier this week, Sri Lanka delivered revealingly weak excuses at a Panel Discussion on Intimidation & Reprisals. Discussing the topic of intimidation and reprisals against individuals and groups who cooperate or have cooperated with the UN in the field of human rights, a field of infamous expertise for Sri Lanka, the Sri Lankan delegate told the council, “One must not lose sight that rights can bear fruit only when it is exercised with sensitivity to the accompanying duties” “In this context Sri Lanka is concerned that the council has increasingly witnessed the disturbing strength of unsubstantiated and uncorroborated allegations being used for political purposes by certain sections of the international community and NGOs to seek to name and shame specific countries. ” With its notorious reputation for freedom of expression, Sri Lanka also said, “States cannot at the same time be held responsible for any comments and references made in the independent media against such persons or entities, which would be tantamount to an interference with the freedom of expression.” They must have conveniently failed to recall an article published on The Official Government News Portal of Sri Lanka on the 17th of March 2012, naming several human rights activists and accusing them of “working with the LTTE rumps to conspire against their own motherland.” See Sri Lankan NGO activists work with LTTE rumps in Geneva - The Official Government News Portal of Sri Lanka (17 Mar 2012) See Sri Lanka’s statement at 2 hours 19 minutes. Meanwhile Lawyers Rights Watch also gave a statement at the discussion, with Ms Vani Selvarajah telling the council, “Unfortunately, despite several calls for action, a number of states continue to engage in reprisals against human rights defenders- among these countries are Bahrain, Malawi, Sri Lanka and Sudan.”

UN team briefed on Sri Lanka’s post conflict ‘progress’

The visiting United Nations office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR) that arrived in Sri Lanka on Friday was briefed about the post-conflict ‘progress’ on human rights in Sri Lanka. Upon their arrival, the United Nations team met Sri Lanka’s Minister of Economic development, Basil Rajapaksa, who issued the usual Sri Lankan government discourse on post conflict development. Minister Rajapaksa also stressed that the government is now focused on “winning the hearts and minds,” of the minority community, and described the recent ruling party victory at the Provincial Elections as a...

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."