Sri Lanka’s Iran oil sanctions exemption extended

US Secretary of State John Kerry has announced an extension on exemptions from sanctions on oil purchases from Iran. “ As President Obama has made clear, the United States will continue to vigorously implement our existing sanctions on Iran as the P5+1 seeks to negotiate a comprehensive deal with Iran that will resolve the international community’s concerns regarding Iran’s nuclear program,” he said in a statement .

Uthayan newspaper wins Press Freedom Prize

Jaffna-based Tamil newspaper Uthayan have been awarded the 2013 Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Press Freedom Prize, joint with Muhammad Bekjanov an imprisoned Uzbek journalist. The award was announced in a ceremony in Strasbourg on Thursday. RSF's director-general Christophe Deloire said: "The war in Sri Lanka is not yet over for Uthayan. If this newspaper were to succumb to the constant harassment to which it is exposed, the abuses by the security forces against the population in the north would continue with complete impunity, without being brought to the attention of Sri Lankans and the...

Gunmen threaten Catholic priest, alleging that he is 'pro-LTTE'

A Catholic priest of the Guadalupe Church in Trincomalee was threatened by unidentifiable Sinhalese individuals claiming to be 'intelligence officers' on the night before Maaveerar Naal, 26th November 2013. Rev. Fr. Johnpillai was grabbed and had a gun pointed at his head by assailants who accused him and Catholic priests in Jaffna, Mannar and Trincomalee as being 'pro-LTTE' and as leading the Tamil people 'astray'. The problem? He had held mass as usual on Nov 26, and thus 'honoured' LTTE leader Prabhakaran's birthday. See our earlier post: Letter to UN from NE Sri Lanka Clergy (Feb 2013) Rev. Fr. Johnpillai's account of Tuesday's attack follows:

Another obfuscation..

Sri Lanka, in a new twist to prove its commitment to justice and accountability has announced that a 'census' counting all those killed in the civil war. P. B. Abeykoon, reportedly the top civil servant in the ministry of public administration who will supervise the census declared that "the government has nothing to hide". Another official of the census department said: "The public will be asked to substantiate the claims of deaths, missing and property damage," Not surprisingly, the announcement has been met with scepticism. Suhas Chakma of the Asian Centre for Human Rights said: "A number...

Review: 'If only Sharukh Khan'

'If Only Sharukh Khan', a play by Raani Moorthy, premiered in London yesterday, November 27th. Framed around three characters' love of the Bollywood actor, Shahrukh Khan, the play allows the audience enter the lives of three South Asian women including a former member of the LTTE. Watching the premier last night and reviewing the play for Tamil Guardian, was Sinthujan Varatharajah...

China leads on loans to Sri Lanka

The Sri Lankan government has received $1.9bn worth of loan commitments from other countries, with China leading the way. China has committed $517mn up to September this year, with Japan committing $421.5mn, Asian Development Bank £371.2mn, World Bank $196.4mn, The UK $103.7mn and the US $64.9mn, according to LBO . China supplies long-term loans on higher interest, semi-commercial terms, while Japan, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank give the loans at low interest rates. Overall Sri Lanka has $1.9bn of commitments from China, $1.5bn from Japan, $1.2bn from ADB, $730mn from the...

TNA sabotaging reconciliation - Gotabhaya

The Bodu Bala Sena, an organisation of Sinhala Buddhist monks has called for the arrest of TNA MP Sritharan for his comments in parliament praising LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran, while defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa accused the TNA of trying to sabotage the reconciliation process. Gotabhaya said to The Island that Sritharan’s comments were designed to provoke the government and the military , causing instability and political turmoil ahead of the UN Human Rights Council session in March. The Defence Secretary further said that the TNA still continues to take orders from the “LTTE...

Sri Lanka wise enough to deal with internal affairs – China

The Chinese embassy in Colombo said that Sri Lanka has made progress on human rights and reconciliation and called on the international community not to complicate matters. "We believe that the Sri Lankan government and people have the wisdom and capacity to deal appropriately with their internal affairs," an emailed statement said.

Panelists discuss 'Sri Lanka's unfinished war' at FrontLine Club

A preview screening of the BBC World documentary ‘Sri Lanka’s unfinished war’, which outlines several cases of rape and torture against Tamils in the North-East, took place at the Frontline club today. The screening was followed by a panel discussion with the producer of the documentary, Frances Harrison, producer of the No Fire Zone documentaries, Callum Macrae and policy and advocacy manager at Freedom from Torture, Sonya Sceats. The Sri Lankan High Commission to the UK refused an invitation to participate in the discussion. The panel, chaired by a barrister at a London chamber who acted as a rapporteur to investigate the impeachment of Sri Lanka’s Chief Justice, Sadakat Kadri, discussed various issues and answered questions from the audience. Full discussion can be viewed below. Macrae outlined that the lack of credibility of any investigative initiative set up by the Sri Lanakan government, “The Sri Lankan government has an endless history of commissions that have amounted to nothing. And I think we’re going to see a lot in the run up to the UN sessions in March. I think a spurious reconciliation commission will be offered with the unfortunate help of South Africa, which will be used as an excuse to prevent things form happen. I’m sorry but from what they’ve done in the past, we can guarantee that almost any investigation will be spurious.”

Remembrance and Resistance

Today the Tamil nation unites in an act of collective remembrance. From gatherings in diaspora locales to silent moments of thought in the occupied homeland, Tamils pause to remember all those who gave their lives in protracted struggle against the genocidal onslaught of the Sinhala state. What began as commemoration of those who fell in a war of liberation is today the defining moment of solidarity in the cause of national resistance. Marking not the finality of death, but the solemnity of sacrifice, the symbolism of this single day, like no other, is a thread that unites the Tamil nation across the world’s borders and reiterates at once its identity and its unyielding defiance in the face of genocide.