Families of disappeared attacked by masked men during demonstrations in Trincomalee

Families of the disappeared protesting at the Trincomalee Bus Station were attacked by masked men, today. The demonstrators, whose protest coincided with international Human Rights Day, sustained several injuries, resulting in the organiser, Sundara Mahendran, being admitted to hospital. Media reports outline that the masked attackers shouted slogans, such as “Go and hold your protests in Jaffna. The east is ours.”

Third day of Permanent People's Tribunal on genocide in SL gets underway

Published 09:36 GMT The Permanent People's Tribunal on the genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka continues this morning in Bremen, Germany. Watch the live feed from the PPT website 09:00-13:30 (GMT+1) here . The Permanent People’s Tribunal (PPT), an international body based in Rome, is headed by Secretary General Gianni Tognoni. See here for more about the PPT and the panel.

'We will not bow down to Geneva' - G.L Peiris on UNHRC

The External Affairs Minister, G.L Peiris, reiterated Sunday, that the Sri Lankan government would not accept international pressure and demands from the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. Addressing a parliamentary debate on Sri Lankan external affairs, G.L Peiris, said , “We are not about to bow down to the plans to take our country before Geneva very six months. We are not ready to bow down to pressures of this sort. " Arguing that an international probe into war crimes and crimes against humanity would undermine Sri Lankan 'prestige', he added, “We have brilliant, intelligent...

NPC Minister refuses to hoist Sri Lankan flag

The Northern Provincial Council Minister for Agriculture, Livestock and Water Supply, P Iyngaranesan has refused to hoist the Sri Lankan flag at an event in Mannar. The minister was chief guest at the event in a school in Vellangulam. According to the Colombo Gazette , Iyngaranesan said the flag does not represent the Tamil people in Sri Lanka and as long as the lion with a sword in its hand remains on the flag, it will be rejected by Tamils. The TNA leader Sampanthan has previously defended his waving of the Sri Lankan flag at a May Day rally in 2012. NPC ministers condemn Army's involvement...

UNP's saffron party whip

The Buddhist monk organisation, the United Bhikku Front (UBF), issued a stern warning to the UNP's Sajith Premadasa to stop acting against the party's newly appointed Leadership Council or else face 'stern action', reported Colombo Page . Speaking at the UBF press conference today, the organisation's General Secretary, the monk, Bopitiye Dhammissara Thero, warned Premadasa to refrain from acting against party unity. The Leadership Council was set up under the patronage of Buddhist monks, to save Sri Lanka's faltering opposition party from collapse. The party has struggled to compete for...

Statue of Sinhala soldier appears in Elephant Pass

A statue of a Sinhala soldier, Corporal Gamini Kularatna, appeared recently as a new addition to Sri Lanka's war victory monument in Elephant Pass, situated within the Tamil region of the North-East, reported the Jaffna based newspaper, Uthayan .

Sri Lanka indefinitely postpones torture inquiry

Sri Lanka has announced that a ‘National Inquiry on Torture’ has been postponed indefinitely, after requests from several ‘civil society organisations’, reported the Sunday Leader. The inquiry was expected to conduct investigations into allegations of torture that occurred during the final phases of the armed conflict to the present day. It was hailed by Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma, as a an initiative that would work towards “national reconciliation” with assistance from the Commonwealth Secretariat. There is no word as to when the inquiry will, if ever, start. A source...

UK will 'build international support' for March 2014

Britain will be playing an 'an active role in building international support' for action on Sri Lanka at the March 2014 session of the UN Human Rights Council said the UK's Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on Wednesday. Responding to a question on the UK setting up an international inquiry into war crimes allegations, Hugo Swire, who recently took on the role from Alistair Burt, stated , “The Prime Minister was clear with the Sri Lankan President at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Colombo in November that we expect real progress on human rights,...

More money for Jaffna prison

The government is seeking more money for the construction of a new prison complex in Jaffna, reported the Sunday Times . The government initially allocated Rs 272mn for the prison, but is now seeking Rs 21.6mn more, due to “cost escalation”.

'Widespread' and 'systematic' - British Upper Tribunal defines attacks on Tamils in Sri Lanka

A recent tribunal found it was untenable that a Sri Lankan police officer was unknowingly involved in widespread ‘systematic’ attacks on Tamils, that constituted war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sri Lanka. The UK’s Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) Judges Lane and Pitt, arrived at these conclusions whilst dealing with an asylum appellant. The Sri Lankan appellant, a former police officer, named Mr AS for anonymity purposes, was in fear of persecution from the Sri Lankan government, who he claimed, suspected him of disclosing information regarding the torture and murder of Tamil suspects. Dismissing the appeal, the tribunal determined that the appellant was excluded from the Refugee Convention. The tribunal concluded that the appellant would have been aware of the systematic abuse committed against the Tamils during his service, thereby holding him directly involved or complicit in human rights violations carried out by the Sri Lankan government against the ethnic Tamil population. The Upper Tribunal findings on the 'systemic' nature of police oppression echo conclusions of a report ‘ Sri Lanka’s White Vans ’, released by Tamils Against Genocide (TAG) in 2012. The report documented the systemic nature of white-van abductions whilst tracing culpability back to the highest levels of the Sri Lankan state. Summarising the findings of the Sri Lanka's White Vans report, Jan Jananayagam from TAG, said, "Our report showed that the state is either directly a systematic perpetrator of abductions of Tamils followed by torture and/or extrajudicial killings or that it 'outsources' this activity to paramilitary groups that it co-ordinates. We showed that the Sri Lankan judiciary is complicit as well as the police, military and prison authorities - with abductees being seamlessly transferred between unofficial black sites and official holding locations. " Key findings from the Upper Tribunal case are reproduced below, “During the period of the appellant’s service in the special unit that the actions of Sri Lankan authorities were well-characterised as ‘a widespread and systematic attack’ directed at the civilian population, in particular those of Tamil ethnicity. ” “We were satisfied that there was ample evidence of a “widespread” and “systemic” attack conducted by the Sri Lankan authorities, the AI and EU reports referring in terms to the abuse of the Tamil population being part of a government strategy. ” “It is our view that the country evidence shows overwhelmingly that the Sri Lankan authorities were specifically attacking the Tamil population, the police force being agents in that attack, certainly by the way of torture and kidnapping. ”