Video: Geneva Press Club event - ‘Is the Sri Lanka resolution at the UNHRC part of the problem?’

Below is the video of today’s panel discussion at the Geneva Press Club. The speakers were, in order: Prof. R. Sri Ranjan , co-chair, International Council of Eelam Tamils (ICET) Mr. Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam , president, Tamil National People’s Front (TNPF) Mr. Kumaravadivel Guruparan , Tamil Civil Society Forum (TCSF), Mr. MK Shivajlingam , parliamentarian, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Mr. Krishna Saravanamuttu , National Council of Canadian Tamils (NCCT) Dr. Andrew Higginbottom , Kingston University, UK. Mr. Bashana Abeywardane , journalist in exile, former editor, Hiru Ms. Luxcy Alex...

Full backing of EU secured for UNHRC resolution on Sri Lanka - Cameron

14:59 GMT The British Prime Minister David Cameron said today that he had " secured the full backing of all the EU " in favour of an UNHRC resolution calling for accountability in Sri Lanka, due to be voted on next week. Speaking at a press conference following the European Council earlier today, Prime Minister Cameron said that he had also raised the situation in Sri Lanka at the Council and stressed the need for an " international, independent investigation". "As you know, this is an issue that I care deeply about," said Mr. Cameron, adding, "I want to see reconciliation in the country and...

Activists in North at risk says Amnesty, calls for urgent action

Amnesty International called for "urgent action" over the recent spate of arrests and detentions of activists in the North of Sri Lanka, and for Balendran Jeyakumari, a prominent disappearances campaigner to be released or charged with a recognisable criminal offence. In a statement released Friday, the organisation said, Human rights defenders in Northern Sri Lanka have been arrested, detained, and threatened. This has coincided with the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva considering a resolution calling for an international investigation into alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka. Prominent Sri Lankan human rights activist Balendran Jeyakumari, was arrested along with her teenaged daughter in Kilinochchi, Northern Sri Lanka on 13 March. Officials confirmed that she has been detained by the Terrorist Investigation Department (TID) at the Boosa Detention Centre. Her daughter was later turned over to the Department of Probation and Child Care Services.

Sri Lanka: Government rounds up activists as UN fudges on inquiry - Tissainayagam

Writing in the Asian Correspondent today on the heightened militarisation in the North-East, and the spate of recent arrests of activists, the Tamil journalist in exile J.S. Tissainayagam, warned that the international community's deletion of 'demilitarisation' from the draft UNHRC resolution text " signals to Colombo that there will be no serious opposition to it ruling northern Sri Lanka through the military ." See full article here . Extracts reproduced below: "As the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva was discussing the clauses of its resolution on Sri Lanka, the Colombo government used troops and special laws to arrest human rights defenders (HRDs) in the northern part of the country last week. It is ironic that while the Sri Lanka Government decided to beef-up militarisation in the former warzones and arrest activists, the UNHRC agreed to delete the word “demilitarisation” from its draft resolution."

We cannot give in to international pressure due to pride – Peiris

Sri Lanka’s External Affairs Minister GL Peiris said in parliament on Wednesday that Sri Lanka could have easily avoided action at the UN Human Rights Council, if it had given in to international pressure, but that they cannot give in due to “national pride”. He said that Sri Lanka would never accept an international inquiry and compromise the sovereignty of its people, and although countries like the US, the UK or blocs like the EU could impose sanctions on Sri Lanka, this was unlikely.

New report on 'systematic' torture and sexual violence in Sri Lanka discussed at HRC side event

Photo: Tamil Guardian A new report, to be launched on Friday in London, will reveal systematic torture and sexual violence, perpetrated by Sri Lankan security forces, the author of the report Yasmin Sooka said at an event on the sidelines of the 25th session of the UN Human Rights Council. The report titled, “ An Unfinished War: torture and sexual violence in Sri Lanka ”, uses sworn affidavits from 40 victims, 20 men and 20 women, who testified their experience of abduction, torture, rape and sexual violence, majority of which occurred in 2013/14, and focuses on “white van” abductions, arbitrary detention, torture, rape and sexual violence in the post-war period.

Sri Lankans burn effigies of Navi Pillay protesting against UNHRC resolution

Sri Lankans staged protests in Trincomalee today against an imminent United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution calling for an international inquiry into atrocities committed in Sri Lanka, reports Colombo Page . Condemning the prospect of international intervention in Sri Lanka, protestors who claimed to represent Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim people, burned effigies of the US President Barack Obama and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay. Protests also took place in Colombo outside diplomatic missions of the United States, United Kingdom and the United...

SL military detain youth and raid homes in North-East - Uthayan

Hundreds of Sri Lankan military personnel rounded up young Tamil men and women in the regions of Sithanthirapuram, Puthukudiyiruppu and Iranaimadu and interrogated them in an unknown place, reports the Uthayan . The youths were interrogated by officers from the military, police and Terrorist Investigation Division (TIC), reported the paper. Eight detainees were detained further in police custody for further interrogation, whilst the rest were released. Meanwhile former LTTE fighters in Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu were also reportedly instructed to present themselves to army checkpoints. This latest incident comes amidst a state of increased fear amongst Tamils in the North-East, following the arrests of activists and house to house search operations by military personnel.

Amnesty slams Sri Lanka's 'dirty tactics'

I n a statement released today on Sri Lanka, Amnesty International, condemned Sri Lanka’s use of ‘dirty tactics’ to evade international scrutiny. Amnesty International’s representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Peter Splinter, said , “Sri Lanka must put an end to the campaign of intimidation and dirty tactics against outspoken human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers and families of the disappeared.” Condemning Sri Lanka’s labeling of activists as terrorist sympathisers, splinter further outlined, “These are preposterous allegations, and they show the lengths to which the Sri...

NGO event at UNHRC calls for investigation into sexual violence in Sri Lanka

An event hosted by NGOs on the sidelines of the 25th session of the UN Human Rights Council examined issues of gender based violence in an ethnocracy, in the context of Sri Lanka. The event, hosted by the Society of Threatened Peoples (STP), Tamils against Genocide (TAG), TRIAL, The Sentinel Project, CNRJ and Sri Lanka Advocacy, started with a statement by Kelebone Skelemani, read out by the moderator of the panel, Theodor Rathgeber. Others on the panel were Jan Jananayagam of TAG, Angela Mattli of STP, Anna Gall of the European Centre for Constitutional Rights, and Ananthy Sasitharan, a TNA councillor in the northern province of Sri Lanka. Ms. Skelemani, the former Deputy Permanent Secretary in the ministries of health, trade and home affairs in Botswana, said the debate “Sri Lanka: Torture, Sexual Violence in a context of Ethnicity and Failed Domestic Processes”, came at an “opportune time”, as it complemented the ongoing efforts by the UN to find a permanent solution to problems facing Sri Lanka. “The report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights […] concludes, among others, that human rights violations in Sri Lanka continue unabated,” she said. “The same report also concludes that even where the Government has launched initiatives and established mechanisms such as military courts of enquiry, the initiatives lack independence to be effective and to inspire confidence.”