Go forward, Buddhist soldier

To celebrate the 63rd anniversary of the Sri Lankan Army, a “flag blessing” event was held in Anuradhapura earlier this week. The event was held “giving prominence to Buddhist religious rites and rituals” according to the official Sri Lanka Army website . Commander of the Sri Lankan Army, Lt General Jayasuriya, also donated 1 million rupees from the army towards the expansion of the Buddhist vihara. An all night Buddhist ceremony was also held at Anuradhapura to help invoke blessings on the country, President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the army. Also see our earlier post: Sri Lanka's monoethnic...

Rs 4.1 billion to be spent on a military hospital

The Sri Lankan government has announced that a brand new hospital will be built for the Sri Lankan Armed Forces, at a cost of 4.1 billion rupees. Government Minister Keheliya Rambukwelle said that, " I think this is the right priority since soldiers have made sacrifices to save the unity of the country". The new hospital is set to be built from scratch and will be 10 storeys tall with outpatient facilities, an investigations unit with a CT scanner, as well as dental surgery and medical lab facilities. Meanwhile, see what the Sri Lankan priorities for the Tamil people are in our earlier post:...

Frances Harrison’s book, ‘Still Counting the Dead’, is out.

A new book by Frances Harrison detailing the horrific end to Sri Lanka’s armed conflict in which tens of thousands of Tamil people perished in five months in 2009 was released Thursday by publisher Portobello Books. The book, available via Amazon , will be launched in London on Friday (see event details here ). Harrison was the resident BBC Correspondent in Sri Lanka from 2000-4. She has worked at Amnesty International as Head of News and while writing this book was a visiting research fellow at Oxford University. She was educated at Cambridge, the School of Oriental & African Studies (...

Rs 2.4 billion allocated for new military hospital & uniforms

The Cabinet has approved two billion rupees for new military uniforms and 4000 million rupees towards a brand new military hospital, announced the Cabinet spokesperson Keheliya Rambukwella on Thursday. The plans, proposed by the President, are intended to provide uniforms for security forces, including the Special Task Force. Speaking to journalists, Rambukwella explained that it was the 'duty of the government to give soldiers and theirs families the best in healthcare'.

Sri Lanka nullifies Eastern provinces’ little remaining powers

A recent bill, with regards to development in the eastern provinces that was passed this week, has received wide criticism from local Tamil councillors and further civil circles, reported TamilNet . The bill allows for the establishment of a Department of Divineguma for Development, which essentially incorporates several local development authorities into one single unit under Colombo’s Development Ministry, which is headed by the Sri Lankan President's sibling, Basil Rajapaksa. The leader of the opposition in the Eastern Provincial Council, Mr C Thandayuthapani, described the proceedings as...

Buddhist monks attack Bangladeshi embassy in Colombo

Buddhist monks threw stones and damaged windows of the Bangladeshi embassy in Sri Lanka on Thursday, as they protested against attacks on Buddhist temples and businesses in Bangladesh. A police officer and a monk inspect the damage (Daily Mirror) Bangladesh High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Sulfur Rahman, said about 900 protesters, mostly Buddhists monks, threw water bottles and brickbats at the high commission, causing damage to the windows and property. Buddhist monk Gakagoda Gnenesaara said in the statement that, “We were tolerant, but day by day we notice great injustice caused to Buddhists by Islamic extremists, we can no longer be patient.” The protest was organised by a Buddhist organisation called Bodu Bala Sena. A leaflet was distributed some days before the protest, which called on protestors to “strike down extremists as they flee” .

Sri Lanka's policy towards witnesses is revenge, not reconciliation - Frances Harrison

Writing on the online site OpenDemocracy.net, Frances Harrison argues that the government's treatment of witness is "short-sighted" and "will hamper any kind of reconciliation or understanding between the different ethnic groups". See here for full article. Extracts reproduced below:

Monks advise the ministry

The chief Buddhist monks from Asgiriya and Malwatte have met with Sri Lanka’s Higher Education minister, to advise him on how to handle the country’s striking university academics. The monks used their expertise to reportedly asked to Minister to be more “flexible” and to “work cooperatively” with all parties in a meeting in Kandy. See our earlier posts: Keep monks out of politics - monk urges politician (15 Jan 2012) Power behind the throne (08 May 2012) ‘Buddhists behaving badly’ (03 August 2012)

UNHCR operations to be phased down

The "operational role of the UNHCR in Sri Lanka would be phased down" said the UN Hugh Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres on Wednesday, despite the ongoing displacement of 'resettled' Tamil IDPs. Guterres added : "UNHCR will continue to be committed to supporting voluntary repatriation of some of the refugees of Sri Lanka from India, as well as with the resettlement of the remainder of the internally displaced in their places of origin". Guterres cited "many of the reasons that were elaborated upon in the Ambassador's [Ravinatha Aryasinha] statement" as to why the operations were...

Website editor’s premises stormed by intruders

The premises of an online journalist were ransacked in broad daylight today, reported the Sri Lanka Mirror. The board room of the editor of yukthiya.com, Krishantha Rajapakse, was stormed by three persons claiming to be the police. The journalist was forced to answer questions by the intruders, who brandished a letter that had the police logo and the words Anti-Terrorism Act clearly written on the heading. Whilst vandalising the journalist’s room, the intruders asked if the journalist had any connections with the Northern Province, Tamil Nadu or Meena Kandasamy. The intruders forced...