Still seeking normalcy

In the last days of Sri Lanka ’s war in mid-May 2009, over 300,000 Tamil civilians fled from the war zone and were housed in internment camps in sub-standard conditions. Gradually they have been released from the camps, and the Sri Lankan government has tried to claim credit for a ‘return to normalcy’ or improving conditions. But a recent report from the OCHA paints a different picture and gives more accurate figures. Over 373,000 civilians have been released from the Menik Farm detention centres as of mid May 2011, but more than 16,000 , mainly from Mullaitivu, still remain in the Vavuniya...

Remember the May Massacre

“During this month, we all must not be guilty of forgetting our history. We must instead actively remember the sufferings of our people, and educate our peers about their plight. We can all bear witness to the truth of what happened , and we must educate our friends, peers, coworkers, and neighbors.” - Mathusan Mahalingam , Canadian Tamil activist. See his comment here

Let ’em have it!

“President Mahinda Rajapaksa invited four selected editors to a meal last Friday, to seek their views and advice as to how the government should react to the panel report. “Though all four were not from national newspapers two of them said that the government should consider even sending troops to New York to assault Ban Ki-moon if the need arises. “ The third was more moderate. He said that reality had to be faced. He proceeded to ask several questions as to what plans the government had to handle the panel report. “ The two editors who spoke earlier butted in at this stage before Rajapaksa...

Acknowledging the obvious

“ It is completely obvious Sri Lanka is a country where people are subjected to various forms of persecution. We are reasonably sure there were liquidations during the last stage of the civil war. ” - Erik Solheim , Norwegian Minister of International Development, when asked about allegations that Norwegian embassy officials have helped people to flee Sri Lanka. See his comments here .

European Parliament also welcomes UN expert panel’s report

The European Parliament (EP) Thursday welcomed in a resolution the UN expert panel’s report on Sri Lanka and applauded UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, who commissioning the report, for publishing it. The EP statement follows a similar declaration Wednesday by the High Representative, Catherine Ashton, on behalf of the European Union. (see here ) The EP expressed its concern at the serious nature of the allegations in the UN report and stressed that those allegations, and the issue of accountability for them, must be properly addressed before lasting reconciliation can be achieved in Sri...

Sri Lanka’s main opposition stands with government over war crimes

These are extracts from a speech in parliament on May 3 by Ranil Wickremesinghe, leader of Sri Lanka’s main opposition United National party (UNP), on the UN expert panel’s report on Sri Lanka’s war crimes (see full text here ): “We made it clear that we will whole-heartedly extend our cooperation to the government in respect of all genuine efforts to uphold our sovereignty and democracy.” “The present situation is perhaps the single most difficult position we have faced externally since the [Indian] airdrops of 1987. “ In whatever we do, we, as a responsible party in the Opposition are...

Exposed Core

Two years after Sri Lanka's genocidal onslaught against the Tamil population reached a zenith in a tiny enclave in the island's north, the horrors unleashed between January and May 2009 have come under international scrutiny. The United Nations expert panel's report on the closing stages of the armed conflict has set out in harrowing detail how Sri Lanka's 'systematic persecution' resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands, through mass bombardment amid a blockade on food and medicine. The report has been welcomed by the US, UK and EU, among others, who have called for action over the war crimes and crimes against humanity. The furor within Sri Lanka that followed the release of the UN report, however, has underlined the fundamental contradiction at the heart of the country's crisis. Whilst the Tamils have collectively welcomed the UN report and its call for an independent inquiry into the conduct of the war, the Sinhala polity, with overwhelming support from its constituents, have united in fierce opposition. The government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa has drawn support from the other Sinhala parties, including the main opposition UNP, in resisting an independent inquiry, as well as action over the mass crimes.

EU welcomes UN expert panel’s report on Sri Lanka

The following is a declaration by the High Representative, Catherine Ashton, on behalf of the European Union: “The EU considers that the publication of the report of the UN Secretary-General Panel of Experts on accountability in Sri Lanka is an important development . It will be recalled that the EU had welcomed the appointment of the Panel by the UNSG in June 2010. “ The Panel has concluded that there are credible allegations that major violations of international human rights and humanitarian law were committed on all sides in the conflict. “The EU reiterates its view that an independent...

UN report legally 'watertight'

" The discussion of the applicable law and legal findings at p. 52 et seq [in the UN expert panel’s report on the conclusion of Sri Lanka’s war] seem to me to be more or less watertight. There are no flights of fancy here; even when broad or progressive, the legal findings are appropriately cautious when caution is warranted. ” - Marko Milanovic , lecturer in law, Nottingham University. See here his note on the blog of the European Journal of International Law. ------ Note: The UN-released pdf of the expert panel's report has the cut-and-paste function disabled. However, a quotable verson is...

US on Sri Lanka’s 'dialogue' with TNA

“ The United States attaches great importance to the dialogue that is now taking place between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil National Alliance (TNA). “The Government [says it] is committed to a sincere dialogue with the TNA. But the proof will be in results, not in promises . “ We very much hope that this [dialogue] will result in concrete progress towards the issues that that are of concern to the Tamils. “So this will remain a very high priority for the United States and I hope for the Government as well.” - Robert Blake , US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia. See his...

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