IDPs branded 'squatters on state land'

Any IDPs who refuse to live on land provided by the government are no longer to be considered 'displaced persons' ordered the Governor of the Eastern Province, Rear Admiral Mohan Jayawickrema, Friday. Jayawickrema alleged that under international conventions those provided with land and housing are not 'displaced'. “ The displaced fall into three categories, namely squatters on state land, land permit holders and owners of private land ,” he explained . In November 2010, a number of reports emerged of Jayawickrema allegedly ordering the burning of a predominantly Muslim village, Kandalkadu, and a Muslim mosque in the Kinniya district. Victims reported that local police had identified Jayawickrema as directly issuing orders to carry out the arson attack. Fifty-four families were forced into homelessness. The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre reported on 1st July 2011 that more than 220,000 civilians remain displaced.

Jaffna Uni students rise up in protest

Photo TamilNet Over one thousand Jaffna university students walked out of lectures and staged a demonstration on Wednesday, reported Tamilnet. See full article by Tamilnet here . Protesters condemned what they described as the Sri Lankan government's complicity in the spate of sexual attacks on Tamil women by individuals widely believed to be closely associated with Sri Lanka's security forces. Students carried placards openly condemning 'ethnic cleansing' and the security forces for being 'shelters for perpetrators'. Some symbolically tied black cloths over their mouths to protest Sri Lanka's brutal crackdown on freedom of speech and freedom of expression.

Amnesty on Sri Lanka's LLRC

Amnesty International has released a new report criticising Sri Lanka's Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission as "flawed at every level". The report went on to urge the UN to establish a full international independent investigation into war crimes. Sam Zarifi, Amnesty's Asia Pacific Director said, " The Sri Lankan government has, for almost two years, used the LLRC as its trump card in lobbying against an independent international investigation. "Officials described it as a credible accountability mechanism, able to deliver justice and promote reconciliation. In reality it's flawed at every level: in mandate, composition and practice. " In a 69-page report , the human rights group has said, " Amnesty International urges the international community not to be deceived that the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission -- the latest in a long line of failed domestic mechanisms in Sri Lanka -- will deliver justice, truth and reparations to the tens of thousands of victims of war crimes, crimes against humanity and other crimes committed during the conflict by both sides, particularly during its last bloody few months," Entitled “When Will They Get Justice?” the report called on the UN to establish a credible international, independent investigation into war crimes, calling it “crucial” to “protest the global principle of accountability”. " All U.N. member states should fulfill their shared responsibility to investigate and prosecute persons suspected of responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sri Lanka by exercising universal jurisdiction. " Yolanda Foster of Amnesty International said , “ We’re publishing this report now as a wake up call to UN member states that they must act on the … credible evidence of very serious crimes that happened at the end of the war and (the UN) recommended an independent international investigation ”. A previous UN panel report also called for an independent international investigation to take place on Sri Lanka's war crimes. Amnesty's report comes amid increasing pressure on Sri Lanka, as the UN Human Rights Council is expected take up the issue in three-week meeting in Geneva starting Monday.

US watched shelling of civilians hoping it would cease

Puthukurippu hospital was shelled repeatedly by Sri Lankan forces in the final months of the war. The red crosses are clearly marked on the roofs and were visible to circling Sri Lankan drones guiding the shelling. Circles mark some of the shell impacts. Image from March 6, 2009.

Diaspora Tamils have to reapply for land deeds

The Sri Lankan Government has asked all Diaspora Tamils who own land in the north of the island to apply for new land deeds. Minister for Land and Land Development Janaka Bandara Tenakoon has said that members of the Tamil Diaspora had ‘abandoned’ their properties and gone abroad . Once the new forms have been received the application will be authenticated by the Ministry for Land and Land Development and the area surveyed before it is decided whether new deeds are issued to the owners or not. The Senior Assistant Secretary to the Ministry of Land and Land Development P. M. P. Udayakantha has...

Gotabhaya promotes army to Vietnamese

Sri Lankan Defence Secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapakse, currently on an official visit to Vietnam, used the opportunity to promote the incorporation of the army into civilian life and the country's wider development. Gotabhaya met with President Truong Tan Sang and the Deputy Minister of National Defence, Lieutenant General Nguyen Chi Vinh, Monday. President Sang reportedly citing 'cultural similarities' and 'long-lasting traditional relations', said he hoped for deeper cooporation and sharing of experience in development and national construction. Gotabhaya, welcoming the President's expressed...

Why Sri Lanka matters

Edward Mortimer, director of communications to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan from 1998 to 2006, writes in New World magazine's 2011 Autumn edition: "Chinese and Russian support for the GoSL is perceived as a major stumbling block. However, we should remember that, in 2005, China allowed the Security Council to refer war crimes in Darfur to the International Criminal Court, despite the two countries' significant oil and economic ties, and this February, both China and Russia voted to do the same with Libya. And even if those two countries do remain firm, that should not excuse others'...

Army defend use of PTA on civilians

Sri Lanka's military spokesperson, Brig Nihal Hapuarachchi, claimed the civilian protests at the on-going 'grease devil' incidents were a 'terrorist act'. He warned the army will take action against them under the infamous Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), adding: " It is wrong for civilians to attack an army camp or police station. Those who do that are terrorists. " Over 120 Tamil civilians have been arrested after protesting at Jaffna's military camp. " They attacked a joint army-police camp. It is a terrorist act," Brig Hapuarachchi, said about them.

EU to stress accountability at UNHRC

Lulia Costea, press officer to Catherine Ashton, EU High Representative, stressed the European Union's belief in an 'independent process' to establish accountability for allegations of war crimes, during an interview with the Sunday Leader newspaper. She warned the EU expected the government of Sri Lanka to 'respond positively' to the findings of the UN panel of experts at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) later this month. “As EU High Representative Catherine Ashton has recalled, the EU believes that an independent process to address the extremely serious allegations contained in the report of the UN Secretary-General’s Panel of Experts should contribute to strengthening the process of reconciliation and ensuring lasting peace and security in Sri Lanka.” “Should this matter be discussed at the Human Rights Council, the EU will continue to encourage the Government of Sri Lanka to respond positively to the report and address the issue of accountability as an essential part of the process of national reconciliation and, in this context, to engage with the UNSG on the contents of the report .”

Sri Lankans instructed to protect regime

Sri Lanka's Prime Minister warned the country's citizens to be mindful of 'anti-government elements' and urged them to 'protect the government' against this danger. Jayaratne, addressing a crowd gathered to witness new appointments to the Sri Rohana Sanghasabha, went on to state that the import of substandard cement and petrol to the country was also the work of these elements, who he claimed were engaged in a conspiracy to destroy Sri Lanka's economy. "When the government is attempting to re-build the war-torn country, the anti-government elements are attempting to create a world opinion...

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