US sponsors ‘Civil Society Initiatives to Support the Rule of Law’

The United States has announced it is supporting the Bar Association of Sri Lanka’s program entitled “Civil Society Initiatives to Support the Rule of Law”, signing a Memorandum of Understanding at the US Embassy in Colombo on Thursday. The sponsorship, through US Agency for International Development, will see support for the three-year program, which will “foster further linkages between the Sri Lanka Bar and U.S. state bar association” according to an embassy press release . Photograph: US Embassy Colombo US Ambassador Michele Sison stated at the signing ceremony, “I am so pleased to...

Holes in skulls from gunshots - Bishop of Mannar

Skeletons found at Mannar mass grave had holes in skulls, believed to be from gunshots wounds said the Bishop of Mannar, Rayappu Joseph, speaking to Reuters . "This grave has grown-up people and children, and there are some holes in the skulls believed to be from gunshots," "We don't know who killed these people. This is an area that was held by army for a long time. Wherever there has been LTTE or army camps, we must dig." The Bishop of Mannar had earlier called for an international investigation into the mass grave to ensure complete transparency. A total of 36 remains have been found since...

Britain allowed SAS to train Sri Lankan army - The Guardian

The British government allowed former SAS officers to train the Sri Lankan army in the 1980s as it attempted to defeat Tamil insurgency groups, according to recently released government documents reported The Guardian yesterday. According to the newspaper, a document revealed that days after the Amritsar Temple killing, the Indian Premier asked Margaret Thatcher to stop aiding the Sri Lankan military. "We hope that you will use your influence to persuade [Sri Lanka's] President Jayewardene to give a positive lead by making constructive suggestions at the All Parties Conference. "Military aid and anti-insurgency assistance are not enough to overcome a political crisis which has to be faced and resolved."

Buddhist group calls for arrest of Tamil Bishops

The Ravana Balaya, an organisation made up of Buddhist monks, has called for the arrest of Tamil clergymen who provided ‘false information’ about war crimes to the visiting US ambassador-at-large for war crimes, Stephen Rapp. “We condemn Stephen J. Rapp’s statement calling for a war crime investigation on Sri Lanka. We strongly believe that his statement is based on false information provided by Mannar Bishop Rev. Rayappu Joseph and Jaffna Bishop Rev. Thomas Soundranayagam. Therefore they should be arrested,” General Secretary Iththekande Saddhatissa sid. Sri Lankan archbishop denies war...

4 more skeletons unearthed at Mannar mass grave

The remains of four more humans were unearthed at the mass grave found last month at Thirukketheeswaram in Mannar, reports Uthayan . A total of 36 remains have been found since construction workers found two human skeletons on December 20th when digging in Thirukketheeswaram. The following week, a further four skulls were unearthed , with more over subsequent weeks . Last week, 8 more remains were found. Last month the Bishop of Mannar called for an international investigation into the mass grave , dismissing any investigations by the Sri Lankan authorities, as lacking credibility.

I was followed and interrogated, says Canadian MP

Canadian Member of Parliament Rathika Sitsabaiesan has stated that she was trailed and privately interrogated by Sri Lankan authorities, during a recent trip to her place of birth in the Tamil North-East of the island. In her first interview since her arrival back in Canada, Sitsabaiesan told The Star how motorbikes followed her whilst she visited various places across the North-East, and on one occasion, three men took her into a room by herself, interrogating her on details of people she had been meeting during her trip. Initially, as Sitsabaiesan began to realise her movements were being tracked, she said, “And then the next day it happened, and we were like ‘Oh, this is a constant thing.’ And then outside my hotel, they would just hang out and give word when I left.” She went on to tell The Star of how whilst visiting an orphanage, she was informed that the Sri Lankan authorities had arrived and with an apparent warrant for her arrest.

Canadian govt wishes Tamils a Happy Thai Pongal

Sending its greetings to Tamils in Canada for Thai Pongal, celebrated on January 14th this year, the Minister of State for Multiculturalism, Tim Uppal, praised the Tamil community in Canada for their "vibrant and growing cultural presence". In a statement on behalf of the Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, Mr. Uppal, said, "I would like to extend my warmest greetings to those attending the celebrations at the Markham Civic Centre. On behalf of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, I would also like to wish all Canadian Tamils a happy Thai Pongal. Canada’s Tamil community members have served in all...

Rehabilitation threat to silence human rights activists - Ananthy Sasitharan

Northern Provincial Councillor and civil society activist Ananthy Sasitharan, has called the suggestion that she should be ‘rehabilitated’ an atrocious threat, made to silence voices like herself in the run-up to the UN Human Rights Council session in March. Responding in a press release to the threat by a defence ministry official and to accusations that she was propagating ‘separatism’, Sasitharan accused the Sri Lankan government of encouraging Sinhalese supremacists and identifying extremists in the south as “patriots” while demonising human rights activists as separatists. Sasitharan...

Sri Lankan government urges US to reconsider ‘preconceived notion’ of country

Sri Lanka has called on the US to reconsider its stance on human rights issues in Sri Lanka and urged it to support the government’s reconciliation efforts. Justice minister Rauff Hakeem said the US and the international community should look at alternative mechanisms, like a truth commission, in order to see reconciliation on the island, instead of further aggravating divisions by digging for evidence to back war crimes charges, reported Xinhua . The minister said that the US had a preconceived notion on the country, which was apparent during the recent visit of the US Ambassador-at-large...

'I'll fight any attempt to arrest me' - Ananthy Sasitharan

Ananthy Sasitharan said that she would fight against any attempt by the government to arrest her, responding to a report in The Island yesterday that an official within Sri Lanka's Ministry of Defence said that she should be arrested and 'rehabilitated' in order to curtail her 'separatist tendencies', reports Tamilwin and the Hindu . Highlighting the international repurcussions of such an attempt to arrest her, Ms. Sasitharan said, "I was not a member of the LTTE. However, my husband, and those who went missing during the conflict, deserve justice."