Army camps get 'permanent structures'

Sri Lanka's Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa visited Jaffna earlier this month, to observe how new "permanent structures" were being put in place, according to the Sri Lankan Army website . The upgrading of the Jaffna army complex will cost 52 million rupees according to the Army, with the website stating that the renovations were so that, " Battle-fatigued troops serving the Security Force Headquarters - Jaffna (SFHQ-J) would hereafter be able to rest and relax freely ". Some of the facilities offered at the military camp for the soldiers included, "a state-of-the-art air-conditioned...

Britain sells over £3m of weapons to Sri Lanka in 2012

Photo: Sri Lankan troops parade their weapons at the country's Independence Day celebrations in the Tamil town of Trincomalee, earlier this month.

BBC crew abused at Buddhist rally

Three BBC media crew, including South Asia correspondent Charles Haviland, came under attack at a Bodu Bala Sena rally on Sunday. Charles Haviland tweeted : 'Our 3-member BBC team + driver covering #Buddhist #BBS rally #srilanka was seriously threatened with violence by mob after filming...' 'My #srilankan colleagues were verbally abused, accused of having "foreign parents". On the mob's word, police barricaded us & stopped...' '... stopped our car leaving until police superior came & dispersed mob & let us go without further ado. #srilanka #BBS #buddhist' 'Mob behaviour...

Sri Lankans call for “Halal boycott”

Thousands of Sri Lankans have attended a rally launching a campaign calling for the boycott of Halal meat. The campaign, led by Buddhist fundamentalists of the Bodu Bala Sena, calls for all stores to clear Halal products from their shelves by April. "More than 90 percent of the population are Buddhists, Hindus and Christian and therefore there is no justification to force them to eat halal products," Buddhist monk Kirama Wimala Jothi said in a statement. The monk also called on the government to outlaw Muslims from issuing Halal certificates. Nationalist speeches made by monks were...

Journalist shooting draws ‘serious concern’

The shooting 52-year-old Sunday Leader journalist Faraz Shaukatally in Colombo on Friday evening has drawn “ shock and serious concern ” from the British Foreign Office, as attacks on journalists continue on the island. British Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt who recently visited Sri Lanka released a statement stating that British consular staff had visited Shaukatally, who holds British and Sri Lankan citizenship. The statement went on to say, “It remains unclear whether this horrific incident was connected to the victim’s work as a journalist. The Sri Lankan authorities must quickly identify who committed this crime and bring them to justice.” “ There has been a range of attacks in Sri Lanka on journalists, civil society organizations and others in recent years. To date, too many incidents have had little investigation and no resolution. The UK and EU have urged the Government of Sri Lanka to do everything possible to investigate such incidences and ensure that those responsible are brought to justice.” The attack also drew sharp criticism from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, who in an interview with Channel 4 said, "I'm deeply disturbed by this particular shooting because it's a journalist and he's attached to a newspaper that's known to be critical of the government - particularly on accountability and in justice issues - which are issues that I cover. And I will be reporting to the Human Rights Council my concern over extra judicial killings, abductions and this kind of treatment and suppression of freedom of expression ." She went on to call for a “ credible investigation ” for this incident and for all others, calling for civil society to be involved, as the government or police does “not enjoy the confidence of the people, they’re not impartial ”.

UN High Commissioner reiterates call for international investigation

In an interview with Channel 4 news, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, has reiterated her call for an international independent investigation into allegations of war crimes and stated that Sri Lanka would be reviewed once more at the upcoming UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva. The High Commissioner also praised Channel 4’s documentary “Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields”, commenting, "Let me say how much Channel 4's information is appreciated because you have brought this to the fore. I myself mandated by the Human Rights Council have been filing reports on the human rights situation in Sri Lanka - we will be reviewing that again in March, but I have consistently called for a credible international investigation particularly of the occurrences in the last few days of the conflict". Despite Sri Lanka’s refusal to allow any international investigation take place, Pillay went on to say, “We want to provide them with expert investigative assistance, we are ready to provide this kind of assistance and I'm really disappointed it has not been taken up." "It's particularly bad because this was government forces firing on civilians indiscriminately - they were shelled and the normal responsibility of governments is to protect people - not to kill them."

Surprise, surprise…

Sri Lanka’s police have said that they have “run into a blank wall” and haven’t made any progress in identifying the gunmen or a motive behind the shooting of Sunday Leader journalist Faraz Shauketaly. "Investigators have still not been able to make any headway. We are probing all aspects of the case" , police spokesman, SSP Prishantha Jayakody said . President Rajapakse has ordered police chief N. K. Illangakoon to launch an immediate investigation of the shooting of Shauketaly, who holds dual, British and Sri Lankan citizenship.

SL military disrupts protest by Valikaamam IDPs

Photograph Uthayan A protest by displaced Tamils from Valikaamam North was disrupted by Sri Lankan military and intelligence officers who attacked Tamil parliamentarians and journalists whilst Sri Lankan police officers gazed on. Photograph Uthayan Protesters fasted in symbolic condemnation of their forced displacement through the state's colonisation of their homes. According to reports, officers destroyed the cameras of journalists who had been filming the attacks by the military. (See here and here ). Photograph @GGPonnambalam TNPF leader, Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam, who was at the protest, tweeted : "#lka army assaulted public who tried to hand over #MilitaryIntelligence officers disrupting the #ValiNorth protest fast. #tamil #Jaffna"

Root causes of conflict not fading says UK FCO minister

Writing in the Globe and Mail on his recent trip to Sri Lanka, UK FCO minister Alistair Burt, suggested that Sri Lanka should learn from Britain's mistakes in Northern Ireland, not "sow the seeds for future conflict". Highlighting the militarisation of the Nroth-East, he said that "while the manifestations of conflict are fading, the root causes are not." See here for full opinion piece, an extract is reproduced below: "But while the manifestations of conflict are fading, the root causes are not. The military has retained its tight grip on the north. Yes there are fewer soldiers on the streets, but the Army’s presence is still palpable in many aspects of people’s lives; Military Intelligence still questions those who speak to NGOs and journalists. The transition to genuine civil administration is not moving fast enough. Likewise, not enough is being done to complete a political settlement that would give all Sri Lankans a clear stake in a prosperous, peaceful future. New roads are not a substitute for this. Worryingly, the past few years have also seen a decline in press freedom and a stifling of legitimate opposition across Sri Lanka. Many fear that their independent judiciary and proud tradition of vibrant democracy and activist journalism are being eroded.

It wasn't the army, says the army

A Sri Lankan Army Court of Inquiry, appointed by the Commander of the Army - Lieutenant General Jagath Jayasuriya, has concluded that any shelling of the civilians were not caused by the army. Of course not.

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