Sri Lanka re-attempts to teach the world lessons in war

Sri Lanka’s second International Defence Seminar will be held from August 8-10 in Colombo, Army Commander Brigadier Jagath Jayasuriya announced on Wednesday. The conference has been themed ‘Towards Lasting Peace and Stability’ and will focus on ‘post-war 5Rs’ – rehabilitation, re-integration, re-construction, resettlement and reconciliation. The keynote speaker will be none other than Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse, who has very recently been in the media spotlight for his rhetoric skills . Colombo Page said over 100 foreign delegates including former combatants, war-affected...

Sri Lanka imposes exorbitant fees on news websites

Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella has announced the imposition of registration fees for news websites in Sri Lanka. News websites will now be charged Rs 100,000 ($750) for registering and an annual fee of Rs 50,000 ($ 375). Rambukwella said the new measures are designed to control ‘filth’ that was being published by some websites. "This is the first step in the process of regulating those who were engaged in publishing filth. "The legal process takes time. It cannot be done in a hurry." According to The Island , Rambukwella said the measures are supposed to ensure to protect defenceless...

'Sri Lanka’s descent into dictatorship'

Extracts from a report by the Washington Post on Friday: Three years after the war ended, human rights groups and opposition leaders warn that the country is descending toward dictatorship, with dissent brutally crushed, the media cowed and the minority Tamils, whose insurrection caused the war in the first place, still treated like second-class citizens. The military still runs northern and eastern Sri Lanka, with locals complaining that its control of every aspect of daily life is deeply intrusive and humiliating, and that anyone who challenge it risks deadly retribution. Most who have...

Guards! Guards!

The Jaffna magistrate has banned a demonstration protesting against the military’s appropriation of Tamil residents' lands – even though he has no jurisdiction to do so. According to the magistrate, the demonstration would threaten national security, create dissension among communities and would be risking the normalisation of armed culture. The TNPF (Tamil National People’s Front) has applied to the Jaffna High Court to overturn the ban. See TamilNet’s report here .

Sri Lankan journalists protest against media suppression by the state

Journalists, activists and opposition lawmakers have staged a protest against media suppression and intimidation by the Sri Lankan state. Dozens of protesters gathered in Colombo on Thursday to condemn the recent police raids of websites critical of the government, the alleged attempted abduction of a journalist and the alleged secret police gathering journalists’’ personal information. The editor-in-chief of the Sunday leader, Frederica Jansz was amongst the protesters, wielding the slogan “unbowed and unafraid”. Only last week, Sri lanka’s defence secretary and brother of country’s...

SLFP and EPDP dominate public sector employment in Jaffna – unemployed graduates protest

Dozens of unemployed graduates protested in Jaffna today at the lack of opportunity for employment in the public sector due to the dominance of UPFA supporters, reported TamilNet on Thursday. Sri Lankan riot police were deployed to contain the protest and military intelligence officials were seen threatening the demonstrators to abandon the protest. The protestors reportedly attempted to submit a petition to the Sri Lankan governor, Maj Gen (retd) GA Chandrasiri, however were not allowed to meet the governor to hand over the petition. Unemployed graduates protest in Jaffna, UPFA dominates...

Illustrating instructions

Rajapaksa chairs meeting with cartoonists Meeting Sri Lanka's main stream cartoonists at Temple Trees on Tuesday, President Mahinda Rajapaksa urged that a cartoonist must be 'engaging in constructive creations', that contribute to the 'anticipated society building process', reports Colombo Page. With his brother and defence secretary by his side, the President asserted that it is 'the responsibility of the cartoonist to identify the social requirements' and 'utilise their skills for social advancement'. See here for the defence secretary's insightful thoughts on journalists. Gifts for the...

TNA ‘laughs off’ Rajapakse polls claim

The Tamil National Alliance has laughed off President Rajapakse’s claim that he will hold provincial council elections in September 2013. “We want to hold elections in September 2013,” President Mahinda Rajapaksa told The Hindu in an interview published on Wednesday. “We are working towards it [the elections] in a systematic manner.” Rajapakse blamed the delay on the voting lists, which need to be updated, as the last registers are over 30 years old and most people on the lists are not in the province anymore, according to the president. He also claimed rehabilitation and resettlement of IDPs...

Teachers complain about the destruction of Tamil youth’s education in the north

Over 11% of the schools in the Northern provinces of Sri Lanka remain closed due to the continued occupation of the Sri Lankan military, said teachers in Jaffna, using statistics from the Northern provincial ministry of education, reported TamilNet . Aid from foreign NGOs and the Tamil diaspora has been systematically blocked from reaching Tamil educational institutions. Many alumni organisations from the diaspora were involved in assisting rebuilding of the existing infrastructures, like the construction of new buildings for schools. However, independent alumni run projects were recently...

Press freedom organisation ‘concerned’ about Jansz safety

Article 19, a media freedom organisation based in the UK, has expressed concern over threats to The Sunday Leader editor’s life by Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapakse. "The threat against journalist Frederica Jansz is the latest demonstration of the Sri Lankan government’s systematic attacks against independent and opposition-supporting journalists and media houses. "They have showered scorn on journalists and shown a complete inability or unwillingness to prosecute perpetrators of violence toward and the killing of journalists,” said Dr Agnes Callamard, ARTICLE 19 executive director. “We...

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