Jaffna Press Club calls for action on World Press Day

Marking World Press Day, the Jaffna Press Club called for action to stop the on-going "violence unleashed again on the media in the Northern part of Sri Lanka". In a statement released on Friday, the JPC called on the international community and Sri Lanka, 1) To create an environment conducive to journalists and media personnel; 2) For perpetrators of violence against journalists, media personnel and media establishments to be brought to justice; 3) For the fate of the all disappeared journalists to be made public; 4) Appropriate compensations to be granted to the next-of- kin of killed and...

Grounding the struggle

The Sri Lankan state’s forcible appropriation of Tamil-owned land and property has escalated in recent weeks. The state’s de-facto seizure of vast tracts of residential land, plantations and farms, occupied and enclosed in ‘high security zones’ during the war by the military, has been ‘legalised’ by new decrees. However, instead of dousing Tamil resistance to Sinhala hegemony, it will have precisely the opposite effect, galvanising anew Tamil hostility to the state and the Sinhalese. The forcible appropriation of land and property brings home to the majority of Tamil families the force of Sinhala oppression today, and fuels the thirst for Tamil Eelam, in ways abstract nationalist appeals cannot.

SL rejects US grant as incompatible with SL's sovereignty

Sri Lanka has rejected a US grant of US$ 3.5 million aimed at judicial reform stating that the grant's conditions would impact on Sri Lanka's sovereignty. Speaking to the New Indian Express on Wednesday, Sri Lanka's Justice Minister, Rauff Hakeem said: “ The grant’s conditionalities were incompatible with our status as a sovereign country ,” When asked to detail the conditionalities, Hakeem is reported to have replied: “I cannot go beyond this.” According to Sri Lanka's Daily Mirror however, the disagreement centred on who should be the chair of the Advisory Committee. Sri Lanka allegedly put...

'Unity of Diversity' leader arrested by CID

The leader of the new political front - 'Unity of Diversity', Asath Salley, has been arrested by Sri Lanka's CID (Criminal Investigations Department). Sally, who was also the former Deputy Mayor of the Colombo Municipal Council and the founder of the Muslim Tamil National Alliance, was arrested at his home in Kolonnawa. According to the police spokesperson, Buddhika Siriwardena the arrest was made following 'several complaints' made against him. Last month the Buddhist monk group, Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) threatened to take Salley to court if he alleged that BBS was inciting racial violence in...

Buddhist monks and violence

Writing in the BBC, Alan Strathern, a fellow in History at Brasenose College, Oxford,has explored the relationshi between Buddhist monks and violence, in light of attacks on Muslims by Buddhists in Burma and Sri Lanka. Strathern is also the author of ‘Kingship and Conversion in Sixteenth-Century Sri Lanka: Portuguese Imperialism in a Buddhist Land’. Extracts from his piece have been reproduced below. See the full piece here . “But however any religion starts out, sooner or later it enters into a Faustian pact with state power. Buddhist monks looked to kings, the ultimate wielders of violence, for the support, patronage and order that only they could provide. Kings looked to monks to provide the popular legitimacy that only such a high moral vision can confer. ” “The result can seem ironic. If you have a strong sense of the overriding moral superiority of your worldview, then the need to protect and advance it can seem the most important duty of all.” “One of the most famous kings in Sri Lankan history is Dutugamanu, whose unification of the island in the 2nd Century BC is related in an important chronicle, the Mahavamsa.” “It says that he placed a Buddhist relic in his spear and took 500 monks with him along to war against a non-Buddhist king. He destroyed his opponents. After the bloodshed, some enlightened ones consoled him: "The slain were like animals; you will make the Buddha's faith shine."”

Commonwealth Secretary receives Sri Lankan delegation in London

The Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Kamalesh Sharma, received a Sri Lankan delegation led by the chair of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka at Marlborough House in London on Tuesday. According to the Sri Lankan Ministy of Defence’s website, the delegation is in London to take part in “a Commonwealth roundtable on reconciliation”, from May 1-3. "The goal of the Commonwealth's partnership with the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka is to support Sri Lanka's national efforts and plans to provide access for all its citizens to a life of dignity and opportunity in keeping with the...

Australian Labor MP calls for CHOGM boycott

Labor backbencher MP John Murphy has called for Australia to boycott the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Colombo, as Foreign Minister Bob Carr remained steadfast in his support for Sri Lanka. Speaking out against the Australian government’s decision to attend the upcoming CHOGM, Murphy stated, "All the empirical and other evidence today indicates an arrogant reluctance by the Sri Lankan government to deal properly with these very, very serious allegations and so I've reached the conclusion that the best step would be for our country to boycott CHOGM". "The Sri Lankan...

US - attacks on Uthayan and other media need 'thorough investigation'

Speaking at a media briefing on Tuesday, the US State Department's spokesperson, Patrick Ventrell, drew particular attention to the attacks on the Tamil newspaper Uthayan and its workers, and called on the Sri Lankan authorities to conduct "thorough investigations". Ventrall said : "We will highlight the case of Uthayan, a Tamil-language newspaper in Sri Lanka. Uthayan has seen its personnel beaten, its newspaper shipments burned, its equipment destroyed, and its offices set ablaze in this last month alone. The assault on a free press in Sri Lanka extends beyond Uthayan. The BBC Tamil-...

SL army - homes, public health and now child scholarships

Adding to the Sri Lankan Army's burgeoning plethora of civilian businesses and administrative measures, the Security Forces Commander in Kilinochchi, Major General Udaya Perera, announced that the army has introduced a scholarship programme for children . The programme, which will start from grade 5 to university entrance level, will be yearly, ranging from Rs. 2000 to Rs. 10,000. The Defence Ministry's website states that the scholarships are 'paid from funds collected from army personnel on a voluntary basis'. See here . Despite previous disturbing reports of the experiences of female Tamil...

USAID development in Batticaloa

The US ambassador to Sri Lanka Michelle Sison has opened a USAID funded market and bus stop in the town of Pullumalai in Batticaloa. The facilities were built using a $477,000 grant from the US Agency for International Development. “This new market complex will provide Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim farmers, fishermen and traders with a common place to sell their goods and establish a common forum for meeting and exchange. In addition, the new bus station will provide communities in Pullumullai and neighboring areas with a swift transportation service for their daily needs,” the ambassador said at...

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