Just Desserts

The resignation of British Defence Secretary Liam Fox following revelations about his unauthorised and dubious foreign policy-related activities will be welcomed by all those committed to a just and lasting peace in Sri Lanka. However the serious questions raised – once again – by last week’s media reports about Dr. Fox’s activities must also be answered. Dr. Fox resigned because, in his own words, “I mistakenly allowed the distinction between my personal interest and my government activities to become blurred.” Nowhere is this more true than in the case of Sri Lanka.

Jaffna Students: Sri Lankan Government responsible for assault

Following Monday’s attack on Mr Thavapalasingam, President of the Jaffna University Student Union (JUSU), students from the University gathered in protest against the serious assault and the continued intimidation of Tamil students in Jaffna.

Growing calls for prosecution of Sri Lankan envoy to Australia

The International Commission of Jurists, Australia (ICJA), urged the Australian government to ensure accountability and justice, i n a statement released on Monday, The president of the ICJA, John Dowd QC, called for the suspension of Sri Lankan from the Commonwealth and the prosecution of former navy commander, and current Sri Lankan High Commissioner to Australia, Thisara Samarasinghe, for alleged war crimes. Dowd said, “ Those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity at the end of the Sri Lankan civil war in 2009 must not be allowed to go unpunished .” “In continuing violation of international human rights law , there are thousands of former combatants and civilians in Sri Lankan detention camps still not identified or accounted for.” “The International Commission of Jurists, Australia has furnished the Australian Federal Police with a brief of evidence that corroborates and substantiates the findings of the UN Secretary-General’s Expert Panel. Since October 2009, such evidence has been taken from witnesses in Australia and overseas." “ It is clear that Australia has an obligation to investigate and, where appropriate, to prosecute those responsible ." “Australia owes this much to the Australian citizens and residents who are victims of the Sri Lankan civil war.” " If the Commonwealth is to mean anything at all on issues like human rights, it has to look to the actions of its members. This is one of its members who's the putative next host in 2013," Former Sri Lankan navy admiral Samarasinghe was the North-East commander during 2009. Several eye witnesses statements state that naval ships fired on civilians as they fled the conflict. Australia's shadow foreign affairs minister, Julie Bishop, has raised concerns over whether the government knew of Samarasinghe's highly questionable past before accepting him as Sri Lanka's High Commissioner. Speaking to the Australian press, Bishop said, " The allegations against the Sri Lankan high commissioner are extremely serious. Kevin Rudd should review whether the government was aware of the allegations prior to accepting his appointment as high commissioner, and whether the government undertook any inquiries or investigations into the appointment ." Samarasinghe has refuted all allegations: "I specifically reject, totally reject such allegations. Such allegations are baseless."

Police to investigate Werritty for possible fraud

The Metropolitan police are to investigate Adam Werritty for possible fraud, following revelations that the close friend of the former defence secretary, Liam Fox, had been posing as an official advisor and sitting in on defence meetings. The Labour MP, John Mann, has called for the investigation, citing Werritty's distribution of business cards, describing himself as Fox's advisor. Mann is also reported to be liaising with the Electoral Commission to consider whether there should be a criminal investigation into Liam Fox's alleged failure to declare political donations. The Electoral...

President of Student Union attacked in Jaffna

The leader of the Jaffna University Student Union (JUSU) K. Thavapalan has been attacked and seriously injured by suspected Sri Lankan Army personnel. Thavapalan, who was elected as president of the JUSU in 2010, was followed by the assailants before being attacked with iron bars, causing grave injuries. He was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit at the Jaffna Teaching Hospital. Mr Thavapalan has been instrumental in organising recent protests by hundreds of students against grease devil attacks, suspected to be perpetrated by the Sri Lankan Army. The JUSU was one of the organisations US...

Unconventional US court summons for Rajapakse approved

In a precedent setting case, a US court has ruled that Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse can be served over TamilNet and through Sri Lankan newspapers, in a case against him for complicity in extra-judicial killings. Judge Kotelly of the District of Columbia ruled that with Rajapakse having evaded service in person, “it is not reasonably possible or practicable to give more adequate warning”. The court then authorized serving the President by posting the full summons and complaint on TamilNet and in two Sri Lankan newspapers. Attorney Bruce Fein, speaking to TamilNet, said that the...

Sri Lanka will be discussed at Commonwealth - Canada

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper will bring the issue of Sri Lanka to be discussed at the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth this month, assured his office, as Canada continues to press Sri Lanka on human rights violations. Harper's associate director of communications, Andrew MacDougall told reporters in an interview, " We do expect a discussion at the Commonwealth on this and the prime minister will make his position clear." See report from Montreal Gazette here . Prime Minister Harper has already made clear that he will boycott the 2013 CHOGM, scheduled to be...

Sri Lanka signs oil deal with Vietnam

Sri Lanka and Vietnam have signed agreements to share expertise in oil and gas explorations and for the purchase of oil from a Vietnamese state-run company. A total of eight agreements were signed during a visit by Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang to Sri Lanka, including a deal on machinery manufacturing , greater defence cooperation and bilateral cooperation in public finance management . The deal comes two days after the visit of the Vietnamese President to India, where he signed agreements with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The agreements included a security pact between India...

Sri lanka a raw nerve for Fox

Former Defence Secretary Liam Fox in 2010 threatened to sue a Labour MP over comments she made about his trips to Sri Lanka, Sky News reports . Dr Fox's complaints arose from a campaign email Siobhain McDonagh sent to members of the Tamil community in her constituency ahead of the 2010 General Election. The email contrasted Foreign Secretary David Miliband's visit to Sri Lanka, in which he challenged the government on their human rights record, with a number of visits made by Dr Fox, funded by the Sri Lankan Government and a mysterious organisation called the Sri Lanka Development Trust...

Fox asked powerful donors to fund Werrity’s company

The Guardian reports on Saturday: Those who had paid money to Adam Werrity's company, Pargav Ltd, included a corporate intelligence company with alleged close links to Sri Lanka, a property investor who lobbies for Israel and a venture capitalist. The money, according to the donors, was supposed to help foster peace initiatives. In the process, it paid for five-star hotels and first-class travel for Werritty, a self-styled ‘advisor’ and close friend of Liam Fox, who resigned as Defence Secretary Friday. Following this week's media storm surrounding Fox, the donors to Pargav may now be ruing...

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