Surprise, surprise…

Sri Lanka’s police have said that they have “run into a blank wall” and haven’t made any progress in identifying the gunmen or a motive behind the shooting of Sunday Leader journalist Faraz Shauketaly. "Investigators have still not been able to make any headway. We are probing all aspects of the case" , police spokesman, SSP Prishantha Jayakody said . President Rajapakse has ordered police chief N. K. Illangakoon to launch an immediate investigation of the shooting of Shauketaly, who holds dual, British and Sri Lankan citizenship.

SL military disrupts protest by Valikaamam IDPs

Photograph Uthayan A protest by displaced Tamils from Valikaamam North was disrupted by Sri Lankan military and intelligence officers who attacked Tamil parliamentarians and journalists whilst Sri Lankan police officers gazed on. Photograph Uthayan Protesters fasted in symbolic condemnation of their forced displacement through the state's colonisation of their homes. According to reports, officers destroyed the cameras of journalists who had been filming the attacks by the military. (See here and here ). Photograph @GGPonnambalam TNPF leader, Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam, who was at the protest, tweeted : "#lka army assaulted public who tried to hand over #MilitaryIntelligence officers disrupting the #ValiNorth protest fast. #tamil #Jaffna"

Root causes of conflict not fading says UK FCO minister

Writing in the Globe and Mail on his recent trip to Sri Lanka, UK FCO minister Alistair Burt, suggested that Sri Lanka should learn from Britain's mistakes in Northern Ireland, not "sow the seeds for future conflict". Highlighting the militarisation of the Nroth-East, he said that "while the manifestations of conflict are fading, the root causes are not." See here for full opinion piece, an extract is reproduced below: "But while the manifestations of conflict are fading, the root causes are not. The military has retained its tight grip on the north. Yes there are fewer soldiers on the streets, but the Army’s presence is still palpable in many aspects of people’s lives; Military Intelligence still questions those who speak to NGOs and journalists. The transition to genuine civil administration is not moving fast enough. Likewise, not enough is being done to complete a political settlement that would give all Sri Lankans a clear stake in a prosperous, peaceful future. New roads are not a substitute for this. Worryingly, the past few years have also seen a decline in press freedom and a stifling of legitimate opposition across Sri Lanka. Many fear that their independent judiciary and proud tradition of vibrant democracy and activist journalism are being eroded.

It wasn't the army, says the army

A Sri Lankan Army Court of Inquiry, appointed by the Commander of the Army - Lieutenant General Jagath Jayasuriya, has concluded that any shelling of the civilians were not caused by the army. Of course not.

Sri Lanka wants more time and space

The Sri Lankan government is demanding more time and space for its reconciliation process and said it is against the “internationalising” of the issue. Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the UN Palitha Kohona is reported by Xinhua to have said that “tremendous progress” had already been made. "Sri Lanka will continue to take all necessary measures to heal the wounds of conflict on its own, as the internationalization of the reconciliation process, would only result in stymying the progress, particularly since it is a domestically developed process," he said. Kohona claimed that the...

Transitional adminstration in NE is a 'matter of urgency' - TNPF

In a statement released at a press conference held in Jaffna on Tuesday, The Tamil National People's Front criticised the failure of the international community " complete failure of the UN and the international community in its obligations under the doctrine of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) to have intervened on behalf of the Tamil Nation ," and called on the members of the UN Human Rights Council to " to resolve to invoke the doctrine of R2P to the Tamil Nation and to set up a transitional administration in the Tamil homeland comprising of the North East provinces in Sri Lanka, as a matter of urgency ." See statement in English and Tamil . An extract is reproduced below: It is under these circumstances that the TNPF also wishes to draw the attention of the members to 1) the Report by the Panel of Experts appointed by the UN Secretary General to look into accountability issues in Sri Lanka, 2) the recently leaked internal UN Petrie Report 3) the Report by the OHCHR to the 22nd session of the UNHRC, specifically the reiterated call for international independent investigations.

S Africa initiative must not be allowed to mislead - ICG

Whilst the Swiss government has expressed support for what has been dubbed the 'South African initiative' - an effort to promote negotiations towards peace and reconciliation between the the Sri Lankan government and the TNA, led by the South African government and civil society groups - Alan Keenan of the International Crisis Group has cast doubt on the whole affair, stating that it was " hard to be optimistic ". Speaking to Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, Keenan said : “If it has any value, it is only as a long-term channel for eventual trust-building between the parties. But the onus is on...

US opens new hospitals in Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu

The US embassy has opened two new hospitals at a cost of over $1 million in Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu districts. Deputy Chief of Mission William Weinstein opened the Mulankavil Base Hospital (Kilinochchi) and the Oddusuddan Divisional Hospital ( Mullaitivu) on Tuesday. “These two civilian hospitals will provide easier access to better and higher quality medical care to the people of Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu Districts,” he said, “The US government is helping to improve the lives and health of some of the most vulnerable people in the North,” he added. See details on the US embassy website .

Army officer arrested for stealing gold from Killing Fields

A Sri Lankan Army Officer and 4 soldiers have been arrested for stealing gold, desperately hidden in the ground by fleeing civilians during the last stages of the armed conflict in 2009. The soldiers and the Lieutenant Colonel were digging through the ground and scavaging for the jewellery, before attempting to flee the area in a cab, according to reports . See our earlier post: Floods wash up bodies from the killing fields (08 February 2013)

FT on IMF and Sri Lanka

See here a comment in the Financial Times on Sri Lanka’s row with the IMF over another loan. See also our recent post for background: IMF hesitant to fund Sri Lanka spending (13 Jan 2013)