UK still ‘complicit’ in torture of Tamils

The UK is preparing to deport more than 100 Tamils on Wednesday, while pressure by human rights organisations is mounting to stop all deportations until the safety of Tamils can be guaranteed. An event on the sidelines of the Labour Party conference, organised by Freedom from Torture and Human Rights Watch, highlighted the systematic targeting of Tamils being deported from other countries. Hosted by Channel 4’s Jonathan Miller, the event focussed on ‘the desperate need for justice and accountability in Sri Lanka and to cover lessons that can be drawn from the Sri Lanka “case” for the protection of human rights within UK foreign policy.’

Canadian Tamil youth remember Thileepan

The Tamil Youth Organisation (TYO-Canada) and the Canadian Tamils Arts and Culture Association commemorated the 24th anniversary of Lt. Col. Thileepan's death on Sunday. “Thileepan Anna is a symbol of peace and determination. Never in the history of the world has there been iconic figure like Thileepan Anna. As an aspiring doctor he had given up his dreams so that our people of Tamileelam can live in peace, dignity and honour,” said TYO spokesperson Priyanth Nallaratnam. The event was marked by cultural performances, dramas, speeches, and poems performed by Canadian university and high school students.

Delhi court halts deportation for fear of genocide

A magistrate court in India last week declined to deport a Tamil to Sri Lanka, as there was concern that he may become a victim of genocide if he was to return to the island. Delhi Metropolitan Magistrate, Arul Varma ruled that, “by deporting the convict herein, there is every apprehension that he will become a victim of genocide, and thus the State of India would have failed to live up to its commitment of preventing genocide under the convention.” He also commented, “How can the court become a party to the persecution of an individual? The court cannot retrograde itself to the position of a...

Rajapakse defiant against "alien cultures"

Speaking at the UN General Assembly on Friday, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse attempted to deflect growing international pressure on Sri Lanka, labelling it “tainted”. Rajapakse's speech comes as Sri Lanka faces increasing criticism for crimes committed as the Army completed its assault on the Vanni in May 2009. See report by the AFP here . In a speech full of religious references , Rajapakse defended Sri Lanka’s “values and traditions, and deeply held religious convictions ” saying, “These cannot be diluted or distorted under the guise of human rights , by the imposition of attitudes...

Ban reiterates need for 'credible accountability' process

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon stressed the need for a "credible national accountablity process" in a meeting with Mahinda Rajapaksa on Saturday at the UN General Assembly. Drawing attention to measures previously agreed upon in a joint statement with Rajapaksa in 2009, Ban reportedly "underlined the need to find a political solution to the underlying factors of the past conflict ". The meeting comes amid widespread condemnation and impatience with Sri Lanka's attempt at acocuntablity, the LLRC, and increasing calls for an international, independent investigation. US Assistant Secretary of...

Indo-Lanka naval exercise ends amid protest

A large scale 5-day naval exercise between India and Sri Lanka ended Friday, as various Tamil groups registered their protest at India’s participation. Paattali Makkal Katchi leader S Ramadoss said , “When the whole of Tamil Nadu is demanding that India have no relations whatsoever with Sri Lanka, it is improper for the Indian Navy to engage itself in joint naval exercises with the same country”. "Sri Lankan Navy has always worked against the Indian interest. After the Katchatheevu agreement in 1974, so far 540 Indian fishermen have been killed by the Lankan Navy. People of Tamil Nadu are...

Lawsuit filed against Shavendra Silva in US

A lawsuit was filed against Sri Lankan General, Shavendra Silva, accused of war crimes whilst commander of the 58th division of the Sri Lankan Army in 2009. Silva is currently Sri Lanka’s Acting Permanent Representative to the UN. The lawsuit was filed by the American University Washington College of Law’s UNROW Human Rights Impact Litigation Clinic in the Southern District of New York. Ali Beydoun, lead counsel on this case said, “These egregious violations of international and domestic law have gone unanswered for over two years now, as survivors continue to suffer in suffocating silence on the island. Finally, after years of waiting for someone to answer for the loss of loved ones, the voices of Tamil victims and survivors have been granted their day in court. Today, U.S. courts provide a forum for justice and accountability, where there would otherwise be continued impunity for Sri Lanka’s crimes against Tamils.” Beydoun is also the director at American University Washington College of Law’s UNROW Human Rights Impact Litigation Clinic, and a Senior Partner at SPEAK Human Rights Initiative. In a statement released Friday, the counsel argued, "This lawsuit seeks damages for violations of international, Sri Lankan and domestic law under the Alien Torture Claims Act (ATCA) and Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA). These statutes grant jurisdiction to U.S. courts over human rights violations committed abroad, and serve to ensure that the U.S. does not become a safe haven for war criminals. The day will not be getting any easier for Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa, as massive protests greet his arrival in New York for the 66th U.N. General Assembly. This day marks a uniquely perfect storm for justice, as demands for accountability begin to echo throughout New York and the world.

Dias faces arrest if he returns

Major General Jagath Dias, Sri Lanka’s Deputy Ambassador to Germany and Switzerland, will face a criminal investigation if he were to return to Swiss territory due to his “personal involvement” in alleged war crimes. The statement comes from the Swiss Federal Attorney General following a criminal complaint filed by TRIAL (Swiss association against impunity) and the Society for threatened peoples (SPM) against Dias. The Attorney General said that whilst leading the 57th Division, there were several instances that “highlight Mr Dias' personal involvement in the military operations undertaken...

Takers, keepers

“When asked why can't [Tamil] refugees go back to the villages that they originally came from, the government said that it is not possible because those areas are now special economic development areas , uncleared minefields or on land the military wants to keep .” - ANI news agency. See the report here .

Lies and landlords

While Channel 4’s investigative documentary Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields is yet to be shown at the UN despite numerous requests, the Sri Lankan Government’s counter-documentary was granted permission to be screened earlier this month. The decision to air the documentary “Lies Agreed Upon” (and not Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields ) was made by the UN Correspondent’s Association President, Giampaolo Pioli, who also covered the event. It has now been revealed that he was Sri Lanka’s representative to the UN, Palitha Kohona’s former landlord. “But undisclosed at the time was that Pioli collected money...