Army welcomes Tamil children to new pre-school

Children at the Kattudai Vinayagar pre-school in Maanipay were welcomed by the Sri Lankan military into their new building - build courtesy of the army too. The military's Civil Coordination in Jaffna said the Tamil children were "blessed" for this.

SL to offer military training to foreign troops

The Sri Lankan government is considering offering defence training to foreign countries at its Defence Services Command and Staff College (DSCSC) at Sapugaskanda. The college provides facilities to mid-level officers of the Army, Navy, Air Force and police in “basic command and staff techniques”, reported ColomboPa ge. The government proposed to offer training to countries such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Maldives, Nepal, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Rwanda, Senegal and Sudan. The proposal, made by Defence Minister, and President, Mahinda Rajapakse, was approved by the cabinet today.

Sri Lanka promotes Commonwealth Business Forum in London

Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Chris Nonis, held a launch event at the Sri Lanka High Commission, in London this week, to promote the Commonwealth Business Forum that will precede the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in November this year, reported Sri Lanka's Ministry of Defence . Opening the event Nonis said that “Sri Lanka achieved peace in the country under the leadership of Mahinda Rajapaksa, and CHOGM 2013 in Sri Lanka is a wonderful opportunity for all heads, Foreign Ministers and their delegations, and the world’s media to see for themselves the reality...

HRW calls for independent inquiry into Weliweriya shootings

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has issued a press release calling for the government of Sri Lanka to create an 'independent and transparent inquiry' into the shootings at Weliweriya on 1st August. HRW's South Asia Director Meenakshi Ganguly said: “It’s undisputed that security forces killed three protesters, but the Sri Lankan government’s kneejerk reaction is to deny possible wrongdoing,” “Instead of promoting the military’s version of events, the government should order an independent investigation and prosecute anyone who violated the law.” Extracts from press release reproduced below: "The unclear circumstances leading to the deaths and injuries, as well as government statements exonerating the solders involved, highlight the need for an independent inquiry."

TNA demands land grab probe

TNA's leader R. Sampanthan demanded the government investigate land grabs by the army in the North-East in Parliament on Wednesday. See here for full remarks by Sampanthan, extract reproduced below: "The government through its armed forces has taken possession of substantial extents of land owned and or possessed by the Tamil civilians, from which extents of land, the said Tamils are not permitted to return for residence or livelihood by reason of the said lands being in the possession of the armed forces." "The armed forces has taken the possession of lands for the purposes of construction of housing facilities for the armed forces or for the agricultural activities by the armed forces which lands in the future become the property of the members of the armed forces in violation of the legitimate claim to such lands by citizens resident in the said areas and their descendants for their residence, livelihood and other numerous civilian needs. Such a clandestine taking over of lands would be in violation of the law." "The government arbitrarily taking over substantial extents of lands purportedly for development activities, such as tourism and other industries disregarding the legitimate residential and livelihood needs of persons historically inhabiting such areas, and making arbitrary allocations of such lands to chosen others in a manner that is discriminatory and lacking in due process and transparency."

Gota slates UNP investigation calls

Defence secretary Gotabhata Rajapaksa lashed out at the UNP for calling for an international investigation into events at Weliweriya, stating that such calls strengthened existing calls to investigate the Sri Lankan Army for war crimes. Rajapaksa claimed, the Island reports, that "there are elements resentful of the popularity of the armed forces and President Rajapaksa. We are mindful of their strategy," and added: "The call for international probe was meant to bolster the campaign for an external war crimes probe against the armed forces. The bottom line was that those who had been gunning...

SriLankan in discussions with Lufthansa over Mattale repair centre

Sri Lanka’s national carrier, SriLankan Airlines, is holding discussions with German aviation giant Lufthansa, over the planned Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility planned in the Mattale Rajapakse International Airport. The firms are in talks to set up a joint venture, which is expected to earn annual revenue of US $ 100 million by carrying out over 110 repairs, according to Cheif Executive Kapila Chandrasena. "The investment will be US $ 14 million. What we are trying to do is to leverage Lufthansa's expertise. The majority of the investment will be borne by them," Chandrasena...

Britain concerned about army violence in Weliweriya

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister of the UK has expressed “serious concern” about the violence committed by Sri Lankan security forces at a peaceful protest in Weliweriya. Statement in full: "I note with serious concern emerging reports of the violent disruption of peaceful protests by the Sri Lankan security forces in Weliweriya on 1 August, in which at least 3 people died, "My thoughts are with the families of those who were killed or injured, "I urge the authorities to ensure the right to peaceful protest is protected and to ensure a swift and transparent investigation."

South African cricket team flies courtesy of Sri Lanka Air Force.

The South African cricket team used the Sri Lanka Air Force's helicopter services - 'Helitours' - to fly for the second Twenty20 International on August 4th.

Can tracking rape in conflict prevent genocide?

Writing a blog for the campaign ' Women Under Siege ', a project which documents and advocates sexualised violence in conflict, Alex Zucker, a director of the Auschwitz Institute, and a director of the Program in Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights Studies at Cardozo Law School, asks whether tracking rape in conflict can prevent genocide. Arguing that " one of the basic tenets for preventing genocide, after all, is the understanding that it is a process, not an event ", Zucker drew attention to the example of Rwanda in 1994: "Tutsi women were often raped with objects such as sharpened sticks, destroying their internal organs so they couldn’t bear any more children. This assault on bodily and reproductive functions, on a group’s life force, reveals the perpetrators’ aim of destroying the group as a whole ." Highlighting conflicts in Burma, Sri Lanka and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zucker added, "Looking through this lens, we may recognize genocide, or the risk of it, in a number of conflicts around the world that most observers have yet to consider “genocidal .” " Sri Lanka: Although armed conflict between the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) ended in 2009— a conflict that saw many instances of state security forces raping Tamil women in reprisal for rebel attacks —Human Rights Watch has reported that “politically motivated sexual violence by the military and police continues to the present.” Here, too, in addition to systematic rape of Tamil men and women in custody by members of the army, police, and pro-government paramilitary groups, life force atrocities have occurred .