'Cricket: a tool for reconciliation?'

Imperial College London student and member of the Tamil Youth Organisation UK, Praveen Gnanasambanthan has written in “Felix”, Imperial College’s student magazine, as to how sport in Sri Lanka has been used to legitimise the country and mask questions of humanitarian issues and human rights on the island. See his piece here . It has been reproduced in full below. "The summer of 2012 has been a stunning exhibition of top quality sports, as world-class athletes congregated in London for an unforgettable Olympics and arguably the best ever Paralympics. An intriguing Euro 2012 was showcased earlier in the summer in Eastern Europe, and this trio of gargantuan sporting festivals were bookended by the Wimbledon and US Open Grand Slams. Many would think that this is set to continue into September with the T20 World Cup held in Sri Lanka, but in reality the Tamils that inhabit the Northern and Eastern parts of the country and the Tamil diaspora have plenty of reason to think otherwise. " "Questions are once again being raised as to why the International Cricket Council has permitted Sri Lanka not only to participate but also to host one of the sport’s most prestigious tournaments, especially with the on-going allegations of human rights abuses and war crimes against the Tamils of Sri Lanka. This essential role bestowed upon Sri Lanka legitimises and condones a country that is in dire circumstances. "

Defence spending rises yet again

Sri Lanka has announced that defence spending by the country will rise by more than 25% for 2013, despite more than three years having passed after the proclaimed end of armed hostilities. No reason has been presented as to why the defence budget has increased by such a large amount, but according to AFP , part of the reason may be to repay arms bought during the war. Figures show that spending for the Ministry of Defence will now increase to 289.5 billion rupees ($2.2 billion) from an estimated 231 billion rupees for this year. Overall the spending for the government has also seen an...

ACF, Avaaz call for an independent investigation

Following last week's call by Action Against Hunger for an independent investigation into the murder of 17 aid workers, they have teamed up with Avaaz and Daily Motion to release a powerful new campaign video. See Avaaz's petition for an independent United Nations investigation into the massacre and war crimes to be handed to the President of the UN Human Rights Council on the 22nd of October, here . The massacre was widely believed to have been committed by members of Sri Lanka’s Armed Forces, after 15 ACF staff members were found gunned down execution style on the floor of their office in...

IMF downgrades Sri Lanka's growth to 6.7 percent

The International Monetary Fund downgraded Sri Lanka's growth to 6.7 percent on Wednesday from the 6.8 expected by Sri Lanka's Central Bank, as inflation is expected to hit double figures at 10.1 percent by the end of this year. The relatively conservative over-estimate by the Central Bank, came after it was forced to downgrade the initial 8 percent predicted forecast. In 2010 and 2011, Sri Lanka had a growth of 8 percent and 8.3 percent respectively. For 2013, the IMF predicted that Sri Lanka's growth would remain at 6.7 percent.

Indian Supreme Court refuses to ban SL defence training

The Supreme Court in Delhi has dismissed a Public Interest Litigation, calling on the Indian government to ban the training of Sri Lankan defence officials. "It is a matter of foreign policy. We won't interfere with the policy matters," said judges at the court. The DMK, a member of the ruling coalition, said it will continue to push for a ban and said the judges only refused to comment on policy matters, but did not say whether the training programmes should be stopped or not.

Sri Lanka looks to ‘address’ language issues

Sri Lanka’s Ministry of National Languages and Ethnic Integration announced that it planned to introduce a hotline for resolving the language issues affecting the public service. The minister of the Ministry National Languages and Ethnic Integration, Vasudeva Naanyakkara, assured that the Ministry was fully committed to implement the Official Languages Policy, which alleges to promote language rights and equality, throughout the country. The Ministry’s plans form a stark contrast with recent developments in the Tamil north, which saw the opening of temples with plaques inscribed in only...

A militarised education

Sri Lanka’s Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapksa has rewarded principals from the country’s Ministry of Education by promoting them to the military rank of Brevet Colonels, reported the Ministry of Defence . In a ceremony held in Colombo on Monday, 23 officials from the Ministry of Education and Education Administration Service Recalling his earlier days as a schoolchild, the Defence Secretary also reportedly, “expressed confidence that the new officers will enhance their knowledge of the military service and work towards the betterment of the country.”

Defence Secretary praises ‘Buddhist revivial’

Speaking at the opening of a new hall at a Buddhist centre in Colombo, Sri Lanka’s Defence Secretary has praised the role of the Buddhist clergy in “safeguarding the motherland” and stated that the country was in the midst of a “Buddhist revivial” . See the report from Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Defence, which reported on the Vihara opening, here . Excerpts have been reproduced below. "Speaking at the event Secretary Defence said that there is a Buddhist revival in the country and with the end of war the tri forces together with the civil defence personnel have helped to renovate a number of...

SL lifts travel advisory on Tamil Nadu

Sri Lanka lifted its travel advisory against travel to Tamil Nadu on Tuesday. The ban was instigated citing attacks against Sri Lankan pilgrims in Tamil Nadu. In a statement, the Ministry of External Affairs said: “Following a series of unfortunate incidents faced by Sri Lankans visiting Tamil Nadu, in particular a group of Sri Lankan pilgrims visiting the Poornimatha Church in Thanjavur in early September 2012, the Government of Sri Lanka was compelled to issue a travel advisory for Sri Lankan nationals visiting the state of Tamil Nadu.

Judges strike against judge attack

Judges in Sri Lanka protested on Monday, after a High Court judge was beaten with pistols and stabbed. In a statement, judicial association would not work for one day in protest at the attack. Speaking to Reuters, a judge who asked not to be names, said , "He was attacked by four gunmen asking if he was the secretary of the Judicial Service Commission," "He was attacked with pistols on his face and manhandled."