Sri Lankan researchers forced to leave Tamil Nadu

Three researchers from the Tea Board of Sri Lanka were forced to leave Tamil Nadu, after plans for protests by Tamil groups, according to the police. The researchers were attending an international training programme in Coonoor, Tamil Nadu, on tea manufacturing and have been in the town for two months. The Sri Lankans were sent to Bangalore in the neighbouring state of Karnataka after Tamil groups announced that they would hold protests outside the offices of the Tea Board of India.

Bishop of Mannar calls for CHOGM boycott

The Bishop of Mannar, Dr Rayappu Joseph, has called on the international community to boycott the forthcoming Commonwealth summit in Sri Lanka, saying that this would be the best way to send a message to the government. "[The summit] is being used to help boost the legitimacy of the Sri Lankan Government as a responsible actor in the International Community. Given the continuing nature of the genocidal acts being perpetrated against the Tamil people it is my considered position that Colombo is not an appropriate venue for CHOGM. I also think to host the meeting in Colombo is in conflict with...

'It's not all cocktails in coconut shells in Sri Lanka'

Writing in the LabourList, Britain's largest weblog that supports the opposition party, Amy Lamé stated that British Prime Minister David Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague should cancel their trip to Colombo, for the upcoming CHOGM. Extracts from the piece are reproduced below. See the full piece here . "It’s not all cocktails in coconut shells in Sri Lanka. President Mahindra Rajapaksa is personally accused of war crimes. In his effort to finally crush the Tamil Tigers, the 26 year civil war ended with 40,000 dead civilians. 12,000 disappearances, more than any other country bar Iraq. This includes opponents of the government, journalists and activists. In its role as Commonwealth Chair Sri Lanka would be responsible for addressing the human rights of other member states. I could see the irony if it wasn’t so chilling and tragically sad." "Nick Clegg has promised that during the Commonwealth summit the UK Government will be highlighting the abuses that have taken place, and continue to happen, in Sri Lanka. How? Polite conversation over canapés is not only not good enough, it’s downright shameful.

Sri Lanka denies barring visas for IBAHRI officials

The Sri Lankan External Affairs Ministry rejected the charges made by the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute that it had denied its officials visas to visit the island as “an attempt to sully the image of Sri Lanka”. The Ministry said the visa applications were made for a seminar organised by IBAHRI and the Bar Association of Sri Lanka, and it was due to the failure of the organisers to follow due process of hosting such an event that it was unable to facilitate the visas.

Singh 'unlikely' to attend CHOGM reports Indian media

Published: 16:45 GMT Indian media has reportted that Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is 'unlikely' to visit Sri Lanka for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, due to take place next week. Rediff quoted 'high level Congress sources' who have insisted that Singh boycott the event. A high level Congress meeting headed by party leader Sonia Gandhi was reportedly held for over an hour, on whether to attend the summit in Colombo. See the full report here . Meanwhile, IBN Live has reported that 'sources close to the development' say a decision will be made soon, with P Chidambaram, who...

Sri Lanka: Feels like paradise?

As part of a campaign calling on Commonwealth members not to allow Sri Lanka to become chair of the organisation, Amnesty International New Zealand produced the video below. They also had written this letter for delegates attending next week's CHOGM summit. "Dear Commonwealth delegates, Welcome to Sri Lanka, the Pearl of the Indian Ocean. Sri Lanka is a country famous for tea, gemstones and spices, a land where journalists can be disappeared for speaking out against the Government and where human rights abuses are commonplace. Visit some of the most beautiful beaches in the world or take a drive to the sites of some of the worst atrocities committed during the 26 year civil war. See some of the island’s amazing wildlife or visit the hospital where Sri Lankan women gave birth as bombs fell around them. Take a trip to the area east of the Nanthi Lagoon where thousands of innocent civilians were killed believing they were safe in Government declared No Fire Zones .

JPC calls for assistance to victims of coercive birth control

The Chairman of the Justice and Peace Commission (JPC) of the Catholic Diocese Jaffna, in a report released on today, called for immediate assistance to victims of coercive population control. The report, which outlined the complaints from women in three coastal villages who were subjected to birth control implants, urged the Northern Provincial Health Ministry, to remove the implants and assist the victims that were suffering from side-effects. Noting that a number of the victims had been Catholic, the report said , “We are having serious doubts about the motive behind these kind of state...

Cameron warning on international investigation of Sri Lanka atrocities

Britain will support an international investigation of Sri Lanka’s wartime atrocities if the government there does not conduct an independent investigation, Premier David Cameron said Friday. Mr. Cameron again rejected growing calls to boycott attending the Commonwealth summit in Colombo next week, following the decision by Stephen Harper, his Canadian counterpart, not to attend. In comments to the Financial Times , which the paper described as his starkest warning on the atrocities, Mr. Cameron said: “If an independent inquiry isn’t carried out, it needs to be carried out on an international basis and I’m absolutely clear about that and will make that point when I go to Sri Lanka.” It’s appalling some of the things that have happened in Sri Lanka and it’s absolutely vital that a proper shared future is delivered for everyone in Sri Lanka and I will not be backward in making those points.” This is the first time the UK has talked about holding an international inquiry, the FT said. Although Mr Cameron’s tough message may irritate the Sri Lankan authorities, they will be relieved that he is not refusing to travel to the country, the paper also said.

Strongly believe Sri Lanka boycott would be wrong – William Hague

The United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary William Hague has said in an opinion for The Telegraph that although he wants to see change in Sri Lanka, a boycott of the Commonwealth heads of Government Meeting in the country would be wrong. Hague said that attending the summit is the “right thing to do”, saying that the international community was criticised in 2009 for “sitting on the sidelines”. “If we are not at the table, we have no way of encouraging the Commonwealth to take a strong stand on issues that we care about deeply in Britain,” he said. The Foreign Secretary said that Britain would be...

Why I am attending CHOGM – David Cameron

Writing in the Tamil Guardian today, British Prime Minister David Cameron responds to calls for him to boycott the Commonwealth leaders’ summit in Sri Lanka next week. The full text of Mr. Cameron’s opinion follows: A week from now I will arrive in Colombo to join leaders and representatives from 52 other Commonwealth member states for our biennial meeting. Today in Downing Street I will meet Tamil representatives from communities here in Britain to discuss their concerns about the situation in Sri Lanka and to hear the messages they want me to take to the government there. Some, including...