Sumanthiran calls for ‘federalism, democracy and protection’

Tamil National Alliance (TNA) parliamentarian M A Sumanthiran has reiterated his call for federalism, despite the new Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapaksa repeatedly stating his opposition to devolving powers. "Although Tamils and Muslims are minorities in Sri Lanka, they are the majority in many districts,” said Sumanthiran. “It is to have a say in running their own affairs and to escape the dominance of the majority in these districts that federalism is being proposed. It is important to note how minorities voted collectively – for a federal solution. That democratic message must not be...

Australia makes fake horoscope advert to stop asylum seekers fleeing Sri Lanka

The Australian government has been found to have created fake horoscopes, as part of an advertising campaign to discourage those fleeing Sri Lanka from coming to the country. Various star signs cite specific reasons for not seeking asylum with one describing how such journeys would lead to “debt forever”. "If you illegally travel to Australia by boat you will be returned. Everything you risked to get there will be in vain and you will end up owing everyone," says the Sagittarius horoscope. One warns of the “humiliation of failure in your community”, whilst another says those who travel may "...

Evidence in Eknaligoda disappearance case to be heard next year

The Permanent High Court will hear evidence in the disappearance of cartoonist Prageeth Eknaligoda from 20 February, reports Colombo Gazette . Mr Eknaligoda, a cartoonist, was investigating the use of chemical weapons by the army in the North-East during the armed conflict, prior to his abduction in 2010. “In 2008, Prageeth wrote and informed the diplomats about the Sri Lankan government’s usage of chemical weapons against the people in the north," Mrs Eknaligoda told the BBC in 2010. “I think he was abducted by people who did not like the truth.”

JHU General Secretary arrested over 2016 road accident

The General Secretary of the Sinhala nationalist Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) has been arrested by Sri Lankan police, after they decided to reopen a criminal case into a 2016 road traffic accident. Champika Ranawaka, a former Sri Lankan government minister who defected from the previous Rajapaksa regime to back the United National Party, was remanded by the Colombo Magistrate. Footage shows the nationalist politician being led away in handcuffs by Sri Lankan police, whilst his supporters had gathered outside the court complex. Ranawaka is known for his history of hardline Sinhala nationalist...

Remembering their resistance - Honouring those who died searching for their children

A vigil was held in Amparai on Tuesday, honouring the mothers and fathers of disappeared Tamils who have died whilst campaigning to find the whereabouts of their children. The candlelit vigil at Thambiluvil was attended by more than 100 people. They marched through the streets with a banner bearing the portraits of at least 58 activists who have passed away.

Gotabaya rules out federal solution to ethnic conflict

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa ruled out a federal solution to the ethnic conflict, The Island reported. Speaking to editors and senior representatives of electronic media at the Presidential Secretariat, Gotabaya told them "there was no point wasting time on solutions that couldn’t be implemented," The Island wrote. Instead, Gotabaya claims that development of the North-East in the form of employment, education and health facilities will bring peace to the island. His comments come just a week after families of the disappeared rallied across the North-East, demanding Sri Lanka's new...

Sri Lanka’s gender gaps widens - World Economic Forum

In a report released by the World Economic Forum on the Global Gender Gap, Sri Lanka saw its gap in gender parity continue to grow. Over the last year, the island’s gender equality ranking declined from 100 to 102 out of 153 countries. A country once in the top quartile of nations for gender equality in the early 2000s has progressively declined from closing 72 percent of the gender gap in 2010 to 68 percent this year. The gender gap widened in the category of women in parliament placing Sri Lanka disappointingly 145th out of the 153 countries. The makeup of Gotabya Rajapaksa’s cabinet has...

UN peacekeepers in Haiti ‘fathered hundreds of babies’ with young girls with violence and coercion

United Nations peacekeepers deployed in Haiti, including Sri Lankan soldiers, have fathered hundreds of babies with young mothers - sometimes through sexual violence - before abandoning them, reports a new study published this week. The study, published today on The Conversation , says that “girls as young as 11 were sexually abused and impregnated by peacekeepers and . . . ‘left in misery’ to raise their children alone”. That includes Sri Lankan peacekeepers linked to a paedophilic sex ring in Haiti, where at least 134 soldiers exploited nine children from 2004 to 2006. The Sri Lankan military repatriated 114 of the soldiers after a group of children identified them as paedophiles, but none have ever been prosecuted.

Attacks on media in Sri Lanka ‘extremely alarming’ - CPJ

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) expressed alarm following a recent wave of harassment and attacks on journalists in Sri Lanka, following the election of Gotabaya Rajapaksa. With the intensifying attacks against local media, including harassment and interrogation by police forces, the CPJ has called on authorities to "hold those responsible to account, and ensure that journalists can report freely in the country". In some instances, those who assaulted media personnel have been identified as belonging to pro-Rajapaksa groups, such as in the attack on Maduka Thaksala Fernando, a...

Buddhist monk lashes out at Boris Johnson after message thanking Tamils

Senior Sinhala Buddhist monk Omalpe Sobitha has called for Sri Lanka to withdraw from the Commonwealth in retaliation to the newly elected British Prime Minister’s call for reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka. Speaking at a press conference, the monk reacted to a video released by Boris Johnson on the eve of Britain's general election, by saying “he ends the speech by thanking in Tamils". "We are not sure if he was elected as PM of Britain or of Sri Lanka," said the monk. "We need to condemn this statement and withdraw from the Commonwealth,” The monk’s statement follows similar...

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