'Still Counting The Dead' launched as one of many to come

Frances Harrison's book, ' Still Counting The Dead' was launched on Friday to a packed and diverse audience in London that included many activists, journalists, artists, and Tamils. The event included presentations on upcoming projects by visual artists and directors that intend to depict the suffering of Tamils in 2009 and to this day, through various mediums. Benjamin Dix revealed his current project of an animated graphic novel that follows the story of one Tamil man, Anthony, and this family, through the horrors of May 2009, to the displacement and confinement of Menik Farm through to seeking asylum in the UK and the psychological impact of the suffering he experiences. The graphic novel will be published online chapter by chapter. Christine Bacon from theatre company Ice and Fire, spoke of how she was inspired to produced a stage production based on 'Still Counting The Dead' after Frances Harrison sent her a few chapters of the book and she was instantly "completely gripped". Reflecting on her previous ignorance of the events of 2009, Bacon said it now motivated her produce this play as "the epic scale of human tragedy was astonishing". The director of the Channel 4 documentary 'Sri Lanka's Killing Fields', Callum Macrae revealed plans for a feature length film and played the film's powerful yet harrowing trailer. Macrae said, "this film will be different to the others, we want this to be a call to action," and said he hoped it to be released by February next year. The launch event also saw a lively discussion chaired by HardTalk's Stephen Sackur, and included a panel consisting of the former Norwegian diplomat Erik Solheim, Yasmin Sooka of the UN Panel of Experts commissioned to report on Sri Lanka, and the International Crisis Group's Alan Keenan.

Visa refusal for Tamil refugee overturned in Australia

An Australian court has overturned the decision by the Australia Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) to withhold a visa for an asylum seeker on the grounds he was a 'security risk', despite being considered at risk of persecution and deemed eligible for asylum. The court ruled that the withholding of the visas in such circumstances was "invalid" and ''had not been made according to law''. The ruling is said to have considerable significance in the cases of over 50 asylum seekers in a similar position.

NGO calls for an international, independent investigation into deaths of humanitarian workers

The humanitarian organisation, Action Against Hunger, has called on the United Nations to launch an independent investigation to finally bring those responsible for the murders of 17 aid workers, in 2006 to justice. Six years after the organisation's team were executed at their offices, there remains to be any form of justice or accountability issued for these events. Despite three national investigations in Sri Lanka, the perpetrators are yet to be brought to justice. Describing the insufficiency of the Sri Lankan national investigations, Action Against Hunger’s address to the UN stated that...

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: