Jayalalitha condemns India’s training of Sri Lanka Air Force

Tamil Nadu chief Minister Jayalalitha has objected to nine Sri Lankan air force personnel being trained at an Indian airbase near Chennai, and called on the Central government to immediately cancel the programme and send the participants back, PTI reports. “At a time when there are voices demanding equal status for Tamils in Sri Lanka, reports about Sri Lankan Air Force personnel receiving training at the Tambaram Air Force Station near here was something against the Tamils. I strongly condemn this,” she said in Chennai. She slammed the Centre for remaining “silent” on a resolution moved by...

Peiris defends Sri Lanka’s media crackdown

Sri Lanka’s defiant response to criticism of its clampdown on press freedoms by the United States and rights groups came from none other than Prof. GL Peiris, the former peace negotiator held in high esteem by the international community, now Foreign Minister in President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Sinhala-nationalist government. “Look at the newspapers in Sri Lanka. Can you possibly say that there is no freedom of press in the country? There is so much,” Prof. told reporters in Tokyo. See AFP’s report here . “If you look at Sri Lankan newspapers, if you look at Sunday papers, they are full of the...

Halt harrassment of media - HRW

Human Rights Watch (HRW) called for an end to the harrassment of media outlets and journalists in a report released on Tuesday. In a statement , HRW said, "Three years since the conflict ended, in May 2009, the government continues to intimidate and threaten journalists and news organizations that express dissenting views . Senior government officials have called such critics “traitors,” a serious charge in a country where many journalists have been killed." "The government has failed to bring to justice those responsible for any of the killings or enforced disappearances of journalists in...

Sri Lanka to ban websites critical of the government

Sri Lanka’s Minister of Media and Information, Keheliya Rambukwella has told Sinhala paper Divaina that the government is planning to ban all websites that ‘sling mud’ at the government. Rambukwella said the ban will come into effect during the next few days and steps to block the websites had already been taken. The minister also said there is a conspiracy to tarnish Sri Lanka's image, the Daily Mirror reported. Rambukwella denied that any of the refugee boats that arrived in Australia recently, originated from Sri Lanka. “There was a lot of misleading information being disseminated recently...

Political detainee transferred from Vavuniya prison dies

A Tamil political detainee transferred to the Mahara prison after being attacked in Vavuniya has died this morning, reported Pathivu . The 29-year-old, who died after medical treatment at the Ragama Hospital had proved unsuccessful, has been identified as Nimalaruban from Nelukulam, Vavuniya. Nimalaruban was one of more than fifteen political prisoners to sustain heavy injuries after being attacked by officials last week at Vavuniya prison. “The government should take full responsibility for the death of Nimalaruban and the brutal attack on these prisoners,” Mano Ganeshan, Convener of the...

SLN official denied asylum over ‘complicity’ in war crimes

A Canadian court has found a former Sri Lankan naval officer not eligible for asylum because the Sri Lankan Navy was complicit in war crimes. The claimant “had been complicit in the crimes against humanity because he had a long service with the navy, an organization that was known to regularly and systematically commit human rights abuses against the LTTE, the Tamil population and individuals suspected or perceived to be LTTE collaborators or sympathizers ,” the Immigration Review Board found. Justice John O’Keefe ruled that the evidence supported “ a finding that the navy and security forces...

Tamil priest in Jaffna attacked by Sri Lankan Army

The Tamil Saiva priest of the Aathi Paraasakthi temple in Valveddithurai was attacked by Sri Lankan soldiers, reported TamilNet on Tuesday. The brutal assault happened shortly after the priest had reminded a soldier who had entered the temple premises wearing boots, that this act is considered sacrilegious. The soldier, who had come in to retrieve a ball, returned with more soldiers, including his commander, who then proceeded to beat the priest, inflicting injuries that required hospitalisation. The Sri Lankan Army had appropriated land belonging to the temple and turned it into a playground...

More than 15,000 reported missing to ICRC

A total of 15,780 people were reported missing to the ICRC until the end of last year. In its annual report , the ICRC president Jakob Kellenberger said that "thousands remained unaccounted for, leaving relatives without definitive information about their fate". The missing individuals include 1494 children and 754 women. The report said although ICRC staff made visits to around 17,700 detainees, they were unable to see anyone in the 'rehabilitation' camps. "Thousands of people continued to be held in relation to the former armed conflict at temporary and permanent places of detention around...

53 arrested for not clearing mosquito breeding sites

Sri Lankan police have arrested 53 people for failing to clear stagnating water and other mosquito breeding grounds around their homes. Police, army soldiers and health officials have searched 11,500 homes in Colombo on Sunday, in order to check whether government guidelines for ‘dengue eradication month’ are being followed. Suspects could face fines and up to 6 months in prison, if found guilty. Over 10,000 personnel of the security forces have been drafted in to help efforts during ‘dengue eradication month’. Dengue fever has killed over 74 people in Sri Lanka this year. Government...

Sri Lanka to continue receiving United States GSP benefits

The United States has decided to not change the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) benefits to Sri Lanka. The GSP country practice review of Sri Lanka was closed based on the Sri Lankan government’s efforts to address worker rights issues over the past few years. “The GSP country practice review on worker rights in Sri Lanka has closed without any change to Sri Lanka’s GSP trade benefits,” Ron Kirk, Trade representative for the US said. The review on Sri Lanka was initially carried out after a petition was filed in 2008, outlining shortcomings in Sri Lanka’s recognition of worker rights...

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