'Ethical' Unilever endorses Sri Lankan policies

The global head of Unilever Paul Polman has visited Sri Lanka and approved the opening of a new factory in Kalatura in the Western district. The $50 million plant was to be inaugurated by Mr Polman this week. Unilever produces 95% of its products sold on the island and the new plant is likely to increase local manufacturing and support export of goods made in Sri Lanka. While calls for a boycott of Sri Lanka are increasing, Unilever, who was named as one of the world's most ethical companies , is endorsing the government's genocidal activities against the Tamil people, by continuing...

‘Victory Stupa’ construction blessed with treasure

A ‘Victory Stupa’ currently being constructed in Anuradhapura was blessed with “treasure” and a large Sinhala-inscribed tablet, at a ceremony coinciding with President Rajapaksa’s birthday to “shower blessings on him”, according to the country’s Ministry of Defence. The stupa is the first in a set that is to be built across all provinces in the island. See our earlier post: Buddhist Stupas for Army to be built in all provinces (06 February 2012) According to the Ministry of Defence , the stupa is “a brainchild of HE the President is underway under the directions of Secretary Defence and Urban...

Karunanidhi hopes for UN intervention

Tamil Nadu opposition leader M Karunanidhi said he was “hopeful” that the UN will intervene in Sri Lanka and take up Tamil grievances, reported The Hindu . Claiming credit for India’s vote for the UN resolution in March, Karunanidhi said that his DMK would continue to press Delhi to support his demand for a referendum. “I believe these efforts will definitely bear fruit. We have submitted TESO resolutions on the way forward to both the UN Human Rights Council and the UN headquarters. We are sure they will consider the issue at an appropriate time and take suitable action,” he said to...

A military boon

Photograph The Island The Commander of the Sri Lankan security force deployed in Jaffna, Major General Mahinda Hathurusinghe bestowed a newly built house to a family in Sunnaakam on Tuesday. The Island reports that the army has constructed 1780 houses in the Jaffna peninsula. See also: The army taketh and the army giveth (16 Aug 2012)

ICG: Tamil political power and identity under 'sustained assault'

In its latest report, entitled, 'Sri Lanka: Tamil politics and the Quest for a Political Solution', the International Crisis Group (ICG) criticised the Sri Lankan government's refusal to negotiate seriously towards a power sharing agreement, arguing that such a refusal was " increasing ethnic tensions and damaging prospects for lasting peace ." Highlighting the " sustained assault " against " Tamil political power and identity " in the North-East, the ICG said the government's military and economic policies were " institutionalising " a Sinhala nationalist thinking that " explicitly rejects a privileged Tamil character ". Arguing that the " de facto military occupation " and " biased economic development policies appear designed to undermine Tamils’ ability to claim the north and east as their homeland ," the ICG said that " for many Tamils, this confirms their long-held belief that it was only the LTTE’s guns that placed their concerns and need for power sharing on the political agenda ." In a list of recommendations to various parties, the ICG called on the international community, including China, India and the US to ensure a range of actions that it argued "pave the way for a lasting political solution" are met. These included fulfilment of the March 2012 UNHRC resolution and a credible northern provincial council election by early 2013. The ICG went on to urge the Secretariat and member states of the Commonwealth to insist that the Sri Lankan government fulfils these tasks, " and agree that in the event it fails to do so, the October 2013 Commonwealth heads of government meeting will be moved from Colombo to an alternative location ." See here for full report.

Satellite ready for launch in China

Photograph Daily Mirror Sri Lanka's first satellite is ready for launch from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in China , on 22nd November 2012.

Amnesty UCLU panel asks - 'Sri Lanka: Genocide?'

Photographs Amnesty society UCLU To a packed room of London university students, panellists Thusiyan Nandakumar of the Tamil Youth Organisation UK (TYOUK), Fred Carver of Sri Lanka Campaign , Madurika Rasaratnam of Tamils Against Genocide (TAG) and Alan Keenan of the International Crisis Group (ICG) discussed the question - 'Sri Lanka: Genocide?'. The event held on 13th November was chaired by Professor Neil Mitchell (International Relations, UCL) and hosted by the Amnesty International society at University of College London University (UCLU). Criticising the conduct of the Sri Lankan state over the past three years, Alan Keenan of the ICG described the government's killing of civilians as "not accidental". The "machine" the Sri Lankan government used to fight the LTTE said Keenan, "what we might call state terror" has been "actively chugging along since the end of the war." He continued, "the hope was that with the end of the war, the apparatus to destroy dissent would be put away or could be slowly cranked down. Unfortunately it hasn't." Following on from Keenan, Madurika Rasaratnam of TAG argued that the current issues highlighted were "not a departure from the norm, but rather a development of Sinhala Buddhist state formation". She continued, "The idea of genocide is useful to understand the past, the present and the future of Sri Lanka. The label of genocide captures the process that has occurred in the post-independence Sri Lanka. If you look at post-2009 and the policies that were in place in the 60s and 70s there is absolute continuity."

Sri Lanka gains another likeminded ally

The Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev has told visiting Mahinda Rajapakse that Kazakhstan would stand by Sri Lanka against all international pressure. "We enjoy good relations of confidence and mutual understanding. I am confident this meeting will give a new impetus to cooperation between our states in various spheres- economy, politics, and culture," President Nazarbayev said. Kazakhstan was recently elected to the UN Human Rights Council, although it is accused of human rights violations. Human Rights Watch have criticised Kazakhstan’s “disappointing human rights record” on several...

SL govt takes legal action against flour companies

Sri Lanka's Consumer Affairs Authority has filed cases at the High Court against two of the island's flour companies, Prima Group and Serendib Co., for increasing the wheat flour price without approval from themselves. The increase in flour prices, led to bakers increasing the price of bread to Rs 2. Citing the Consumer Protection Act, the Authority said that approval was need to increase the price of an essential food commodity.

Luxury car tax and ban on government worker trades removed

The Sri Lankan government has declared that the ban on trading imported cars by public servants has now been lifted, allowing government officials to sell vehicles that they have imported. The lifting of restrictions, announced under the 2013 budget, was announced by the Ministry of Finance, allowing public servants to trade their vehicles any time after importation, a practise that had reportedly been occurring underhand previously. The announcement comes as the government also declared the previously existing 300% tax on luxury vehicles was also to be lifted, as part of the new budget. The...