Commonwealth Secretary receives Sri Lankan delegation in London

The Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Kamalesh Sharma, received a Sri Lankan delegation led by the chair of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka at Marlborough House in London on Tuesday. According to the Sri Lankan Ministy of Defence’s website, the delegation is in London to take part in “a Commonwealth roundtable on reconciliation”, from May 1-3. "The goal of the Commonwealth's partnership with the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka is to support Sri Lanka's national efforts and plans to provide access for all its citizens to a life of dignity and opportunity in keeping with the...

Australian Labor MP calls for CHOGM boycott

Labor backbencher MP John Murphy has called for Australia to boycott the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Colombo, as Foreign Minister Bob Carr remained steadfast in his support for Sri Lanka. Speaking out against the Australian government’s decision to attend the upcoming CHOGM, Murphy stated, "All the empirical and other evidence today indicates an arrogant reluctance by the Sri Lankan government to deal properly with these very, very serious allegations and so I've reached the conclusion that the best step would be for our country to boycott CHOGM". "The Sri Lankan...

US - attacks on Uthayan and other media need 'thorough investigation'

Speaking at a media briefing on Tuesday, the US State Department's spokesperson, Patrick Ventrell, drew particular attention to the attacks on the Tamil newspaper Uthayan and its workers, and called on the Sri Lankan authorities to conduct "thorough investigations". Ventrall said : "We will highlight the case of Uthayan, a Tamil-language newspaper in Sri Lanka. Uthayan has seen its personnel beaten, its newspaper shipments burned, its equipment destroyed, and its offices set ablaze in this last month alone. The assault on a free press in Sri Lanka extends beyond Uthayan. The BBC Tamil-...

SL army - homes, public health and now child scholarships

Adding to the Sri Lankan Army's burgeoning plethora of civilian businesses and administrative measures, the Security Forces Commander in Kilinochchi, Major General Udaya Perera, announced that the army has introduced a scholarship programme for children . The programme, which will start from grade 5 to university entrance level, will be yearly, ranging from Rs. 2000 to Rs. 10,000. The Defence Ministry's website states that the scholarships are 'paid from funds collected from army personnel on a voluntary basis'. See here . Despite previous disturbing reports of the experiences of female Tamil...

USAID development in Batticaloa

The US ambassador to Sri Lanka Michelle Sison has opened a USAID funded market and bus stop in the town of Pullumalai in Batticaloa. The facilities were built using a $477,000 grant from the US Agency for International Development. “This new market complex will provide Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim farmers, fishermen and traders with a common place to sell their goods and establish a common forum for meeting and exchange. In addition, the new bus station will provide communities in Pullumullai and neighboring areas with a swift transportation service for their daily needs,” the ambassador said at...

Thousands gather at UPFA May Day rally

Thousands of Sri Lankans gathered in Colombo at the ruling coalition UPFA's May Day rally. Describing the crowds as the largest he had ever seen in Sri Lanka, the President Mahinda Rajapaksa slammed the opposition UNP saying : “They are dancing according to the tune of the diaspora whose main objective is to divide the country at any cost." “The Opposition which has a history of aiding and abetting the terrorists to divide the country has now started protests carrying candles.” Meanwhile Namal Rajapaksa addressed crowds gathered in Nuwara Eliya:

TNPF leader receives masked visitors

Four masked individuals appeared at the home of TNPF leader Gajen Ponnambalan, making enquiries as to his wherabouts. On being told that he was out, the four individuals, who were covered by helmets and raincoats, proceeded to take photographs of the motorbikes of TNPF members parked outside Ponnambalan's house. The incident, a suspected attempt at intimidation, occured while Mr Ponnambalam attended a May Day Event in Vadamarachi hosted by the TNPF and the All Ceylon Tamil Congress.

EU decision on SL fishing sanctions in June

The EU’s decision on whether to impose sanctions on Sri Lanka in regards to Illegal Unregulated Unreported (IUU) fishing will be made on June 26. Sri Lanka’s Fisheries Ministry made submissions to Brussels last week, in an attempt to avoid sanctions. “We have taken a number of measures. The EU is happy about it. We also have a vessel monitoring system in place,” Minister Rajitha Senaratne said. “My discussion with EU officials was fruitful. We were able to impress upon them about our case. Our fisheries industry is a means of livelihood. Also, it is important for food security. Therefore, it...

Amnesty documents 'Assault on Dissent' in SL

In its latest report published today on Sri Lanka - 'Assault on Dissent ', Amnesty International documents what it has described as the Sri Lankan government's intensifying "crackdown on critics through threats, harassment, imprisonment and violent attacks ". Calling for a boycott of the Commonwealth meeting in Sri Lanka later this year, AI's Deputy Asia Pacific Director, Polly Truscott, said: “ Violent repression of dissent and the consolidation of political power go hand in hand in Sri Lanka ,” “Over the past few years we have seen space for criticism decrease . There is a real climate of fear in Sri Lanka , with those brave enough to speak out against the government often having to suffer badly for it.” “The CHOGM meeting must not be allowed to go ahead in Colombo unless the government has demonstrated beforehand that it has stopped systematic violations of human rights. All attacks on individuals must be promptly, impartially and effectively investigated and those responsible held to account.” "It is abundantly clear that Colombo is unwilling and unable to investigate the credible allegations of crimes under international law , including war crimes, during the conflict. What is needed is an independent, impartial and internationally led investigation .” Find report here , extracts of accompanying statement by AI published below: "The document, Assault on Dissent reveals how the government led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa is promoting an official attitude that equates criticism with “treason” in a bid to tighten its grip on power.

Amnesty report fans flames of hatred - SL ambassador

Sri Lanka's ambassador to the UK, Chris Nonis slammed the Amnesty report as a "propaganda exercise in misinformation and heresay", during an interview with BBC Radio 4's Today Programme. Asked about the countless deaths during the end of the armed conflict, Nonis replied: " the terrible thing about a terrorism is that we don't have any other option " Listen here at 01:20:55 for full interview. Extract transcribed below: Nonis : "As usual, Amnesty International has carried out its usual propaganda exercise in misinformation and heresay . I would say it's a fascinating piece of fiction . It's...

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