Iran looks to expand ties with Sri Lanka

Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi met with Sri Lanka’s Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiyutheen, calling for the two countries to expand their relationship. Salehi stated on Monday, "The Islamic Republic of Iran is fully ready for supporting and evermore expansion of comprehensive cooperation with Sri Lanka, particularly in political, economic, commercial, transit, and joint investments fields," His statement comes as Sri Lanka’s Ceylon Petroleum Corporation stated that they have only received one shipment of oil from Iran since June due to sanctions placed on the country...

Australian HR Commission concerned about Christmas Island immigration detention

In a report published on Thursday following a recent visit, the Australian Human Rights Commission said it " continues to hold serious concerns about the appropriateness of holding asylum seekers in immigration detention on Christmas island ." Asserting that the conditions are " not appropriate for asylum seekers ", the Commission stated it "has ongoing concerns about the prison-like nature of the Christmas Island Immigration Detention Centre (IDC), the harsh conditions in the Aqua and Lilac compounds, and the inappropriateness of the Construction Camp as a place for accommodating families with children and unaccompanied minors ." It went on to highlight " significant overcrowding ", concerns around a lack of sufficient mental health services to keep pace with a growing demand, and that children " continue to be subjected to mandatory detention on Christmas Island, in breach of Australia’s obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) ," as key issues. In the Aqua Compound - a one of the 'secure' immigration detention facility - the Commission found that single adult men were being housed along side families with children, which the Commission felt may lead to a further breach of the CRC. Thirty-five children were reported to be housed in this 'secure' compound. Most family groups are housed within the Construction Camp, a 'low security detention facility'. On this visit, the Commission detailed that 1989 people were in current detention, included 315 children, and 944 people from the island of Sri Lanka.

Army built Buddhist school in Jaffna appeals for more funds

The newly opened Nandarama Tamil Dhamma School in Jaffna has appealed for more funds, reported the government-owned Daily News website. The school which was built by the Sri Lankan Army and supported by the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress Vice President Sudath Madugalle was constructed to help “Northern children”, who have reportedly shown “great keenness in attending Dhamma lessons”. See the Daily News article “ Northern children keen to learn Dhamma ” here . Photograph: Picture by Ruwan De Silva from Daily News. The Nandarama Tamil Dhamma School in Jaffna, complete with photograph of President...

Every little kills... in Sri Lanka

British retail giant Tesco has decided to give every little help to Sri Lanka's genocide by picking 23 exporters from the island for its hardlines categories. The world’s third biggest retailers has agreed the deals and hinted at further expansion in Sri Lanka, at a time when calls for a boycott of the country are growing. “I am impressed with the professionalism of Sri Lanka’s Industry Ministry and its DoC [Department of Commerce]. From day one of our arrival, everything went smoothly with top coordination and we achieved our mission in Colombo quickly thanks to their sleek professionalism...

Militarisation: a state of terror

The Sri Lankan state has relentlessly continued to consolidate its militarisation of the North-East since the armed conflict drew to a close in 2009. Regardless of international efforts at closed door diplomacy and the occasional public wrist slapping, the Sri Lankan state has shown no signs of relenting. The burgeoning military budget, the grabbing of civilian lands for military housing and establishments, and the military’s saturating presence within everyday civilian life has continued; not only contrary to well-trodden paths of post-conflict reconciliation, but in brazen defiance of international criticism. The significance of militarisation of the North-East however, goes beyond these measurable markers and tangible concerns. The end of the armed conflict has not proved to be a window of opportunity, to ensure equal rights for all citizens or create a ‘terrorism’-free liberal democracy. Instead it has been exploited by the Sri Lankan state as an opportunity to orchestrate the unhindered expansion of Sinhala Buddhist hegemony. Delirious with victory, the state, armed with its military, has embarked on an uncompromising goal of asserting a Sinhala Buddhist identity throughout the island and ruthlessly erasing any expression of an Eelam Tamil one.

Australian calls to boycott Sri Lankan cricket grow

Trevor Grant, a former chief cricket writer at The Age appeared on Australian ABC New’s “The Drum” show, calling for Australia to boycott the Sri Lankan cricket team, as calls for a sporting boycott continue to spread. Grant, who also works with the Refugee Action Collective, stated on the show, “This cricket team is really part and parcel of maintaining the credibility a government that has already been called out on war crimes and crimes against humanity by the UN, and it continues to persecute the Tamils in the Northern and Eastern regions of Sri Lanka.” See his interview here from 35 minutes 30 seconds onwards. When asked about why Tamil cricket players Muttiah Muralitharan and Angelo Matthews have not spoken out boycotting Sri Lankan cricket, Grant responded, “No they haven’t said that. They prefer to stay silent. Because in our opinion, their cricket careers are more important, than this issue to them." " They try and say that politics and sport should be separated, but we all know, anybody who has worked in sport, like I have for 40 years, knows that they are inextricably entwined." When questioned regarding how the South African sporting boycott was based on the country’s racist selection policies, and how such a policy does not overtly exist in Sri Lanka, Grant replied, “There is still very much an issue of war crimes and this leads into the issue of selection, though it’s not about selection at the selection table, b ut it is about selection of Tamils." "There has been only something like half a dozen of Tamils play cricket for Sri Lanka over the past 20 or 30 years. What’s the reason for it?" "Well I think if you look at an oppressed minority, like the Tamils have been for so long, they love cricket the Tamils, but they never get the chance, they never get the conditions for their children to come through to try and match the majority Sinhalese when they get to selection and that sort of thing in junior teams. The facilities and all that are much worse for Tamils." Trevor grant also wrote for The Age earlier this week calling for a sporting boycott of Sri Lanka. Extracts from his piece “Australia must go in to bat for Tamils” , have been reproduced below. See his full piece here . “It is now time for Australian consciences to be pricked, as the Sri Lankan cricketers prepare for star billing against Australia in three Tests this summer, in Hobart, Melbourne and Sydney.”

‘Crackdown on students spreads further’ - Amnesty International

Amnesty International has released a second notice for “urgent action” over the spread of arrests of the Jaffna University students, and raising concerns over the use of torture. In a statement released on Tuesday, the human rights group said, "One student is believed to have been released on bail, but many more have been arrested. Several are held incommunicado, putting them at much greater risk of torture." The statement went on to call on people to write to Sri Lankan officials, including Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, appealing for, the authorities to release the students or charge...

'Release Jaffna University students' - Kilinochchi residents

A protest was held outside the Kilinochchi District office calling for the immediate release of Jaffna University students along with civilians who are in detention centres. Protesters shouted slogans and carried placards that said “release Jaffna University students immediately” and “Military get out”. Tamil National Alliance MP Suresh Premachandran, TNPF leader Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam and other politicians from other political perties were present. See the report from Uthayan here .

TNA youth coordinator's home attacked

The home of the youth coordinator for the TNA on the islets in Jaffna has been targeted by a grenade attack, reported TamilNet on Tuesday. Nishanthan, who is a former EPDP member, said he escaped the attack as the grenade hit a tree outside the house. The young politician left the pro-government EPDP after discovering fraud in the municipal council of Jaffna, where he was elected for the EPDP. For more details see report on TamilNet here .

TNPF condemns Sampanthan's parliamentary address

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the Tamil National People’s Front (TNPF) expressed ‘severe dissatisfaction’ with the comments made in Parliament by TNA leader Sampanthan. The TNPF questioned why, if the TNA did not demand complete demilitarisation in the North-East, had TNA parliamentarians participated in protests calling for withdrawal of the army and signed a statement demanding demilitarisation in New Delhi in August 2011. TNPF went on to accuse the TNA of acting falsely for the sake of winning the support of the Tamil people, and asserted that as parties forming the alliance and other TNA parliamentarians had not spoken out against Sampanthan’s statements, they must be assumed to agree with them. Criticising Sampanthan for ‘undermining the Tamil people’s liberation struggle’ by portraying to the LTTE as terrorists. The TNPF stated that Sampanthan’s comments ammounted to justifications of the ‘war on terror’ argument offered up by the Rajapakse regime. Extracts from the press release : “Tamils see the Sri Lankan Army, which is 99% Sinhalese, as an occupational army. Reason being, this army is the prevalent tool employed in the Sri Lankan state’s scheme to destroy the existence of the Tamil nation.” “Mr Sampanthan’s comments emphasising the reduction of military presence rather than demilitarisation is a sign of support for those forces that yearn to break the spirit of Tamil nationalism.”