Sri Lankan Airlines may be banned from Europe

The national carrier of Sri Lanka, Sri Lankan Airlines, is at serious risk from being barred from entering European airspace due to safety concerns by the European Aviation Authority. Sri Lanka’s The Island reported the airline is on ‘virtual notice’ and safety audits on the carrier’s planes have become almost mandatory at European airports. The barring of the airlines from Europe will have serious implications for the future of the airline, as a huge proportion of its flights operate to and from Europe. See The Island report here .

Ofcom declares “Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields” impartial

The UK’s independent media regulator, Ofcom, has found that Channel 4’s documentary examining war crimes in Sri Lanka did not breach any broadcasting codes and was impartial. The documentary, broadcast in June this year, examined the final events of the Sri Lankan government’s offensive in the Vanni, where they have been accused of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity. In a statement Monday, Ofcom said, "Channel 4 has a unique public service remit to provide programming that is challenging, diverse and likely to provoke debate. Consequently, the broadcaster has a history of broadcasting very challenging material from war zones (including graphic footage) and seeking out the voices and views of those who may not be represented.” "Ofcom therefore concluded that overall Channel 4 preserved due impartiality in its examination of the Sri Lankan government's actions and policies during its offensive and there was no breach of [the broadcasting code]." See report from the Guardian here .

Former Australian PM calls for tougher approach on Sri Lanka

Malcolm Fraser, the former Liberal Australian Prime Minister, has urged the Australian government to toughen its stance on Sri Lanka until there is an investigation into war crimes on the island. Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Fraser said , ''There ought to be a proper investigation and if that leads to indictments before the International Criminal Court or the War Crimes Tribunal, so be it. '' Fraser, who will be attending the 2011 CHOGM in Perth in a few days time, also slammed the decision to host the 2013 CHOGM in Sri Lanka saying, "Under current circumstances, holding the Commonwealth...

Amnesty sends report to UN Committee against Torture

Amnesty International has called on the Sri Lankan Government to bring to justice those who have committed acts of torture, in a report submitted to the UN last week. The 32-page report documents allegations of torture, enforced disappearances and sexual abuse, and also slams the “routine use by Sri Lankan authorities of prolonged administrative detention”. The group also called for “a public and impartial investigation” to reveal the existence and extensive use of secret detention sites, where torture has taken place “ with a view to holding state actors accountable for actions and providing...

Commonwealth at crossroads

Ahead of the CHOGM in Perth, writing in the Trinidad Express on Monday, Peter Kellner, journalist and chairman of the Royal Commonwealth Society, accuses the conference and the institution of the Commonwealth of " sleeping walking into irrelevance ". Urging it to reconsider its plans to hold the next meeting in Sri Lanka, a country that has refused to investigate credible allegations of war crimes, Kellner states, " The Commonwealth's ability to become a respected 21st century global network rests on its commitment to democracy and human rights. For this week's meeting to confirm Sri Lanka...

Canadian Peace Alliance supports Tamil nation’s self-determination

An umbrella organisation consisting of 180 groups, representing over a million Canadians, passed a resolution last week expressing its support for the self-determination of the Tamil nation and calling for an immediate halt to the ongoing genocide in the Tamil homeland. In a special panel discussion on Sri Lanka during their bi-annual convention, the Canadian Peace Alliance called for an “immediate end to the colonialism and genocide of the Tamil nation and an end to the occupation of the Tamil homeland by the Sri Lankan Armed Forces and its allied paramilitary groups.” Mr. Sid Lacombe,...

Rajapaksa indicted for war crimes in Australian court

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has had an indictment filed against him, in Melbourne Magistrates Court, for war crimes. The indictiment was filed by Arunachalam Jegatheeswaran, an Australian Tamil who witnessed the government's aerial bombardment of hospitals and other civilian buildings during the height of the conflict in 2009. The charge comes as Rajapaksa is scheduled to arrive in Australia, for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth this week. Speaking to Australian media channel, ABC, Jegatheeswaran explained what he has witnessed: " Patients were killed and patients who were in the hospital were killed and there were other patients waiting for treatment, they were killed. "And there was a medical store where they kept the medicines, those were destroyed, scattered all over the place, you can see. "Ambulances was destroyed. So I have seen that personally ." " The hospital, clearly a big red cross sign was marked on the roof, and drones usually take surveillance, so I'm very positive that they know where the hospital is and they know it'll be damaged. So, that's what I can tell at this stage. " He's [Rajapaksa] the commander-in-chief and nothing would have happened without his knowledge or his directions, and ultimately, he should be answerable to what was happening ." See here for full interview. Jegatheeswaran's lawyer, Rob Stary, urged the Australian government to investigate, ''The government will need to show a bit of backbone to investigate it, but there is absolutely no reason on the face of it why they should not pursue it . " It's incontrovertible in our view that war crimes have been committed ." Stary confirmed the hearing is scheduled to take place on the 29th November.

International conference on Sri Lanka calls for accountability

The Global Tamil Forum and Australian Tamil Congress co-hosted an international conference in Sydney, reaffirming the role of the international community in pressure Sri Lanka to address human rights violations that occurred during the war on the island. The conference, held on the 20th October in Sydney, was entitled “ Accountability in Sri Lanka: Common Justice in the Commonwealth ” and saw a vast array of distinguished speakers from all over the world, including MPs from Malaysia, South Africa, Australia and Sri Lanka. Geoffery Robertson , an eminent QC, who was appointed by the UN Secretary General as one of the three distinguished jurist members of the UN’s Internal Justice Council and part-time appeal judge at the UN-backed court for war crimes in Sierra Leone was also in attendance, along with guests from Amnesty International (Graham Thorn - AI's Australia Refugee Coordinator, and Senthorun Raj - NSW president of AI Australia) and diplomats, including, Sisa Njikelana , an MP from South Africa's ANC (African National Congress). Prof Suriyanarayanan of India, member of the National Security Advisory Board of the Government of India during 2008-2010, also spoke at the event, which recognised that “India must revisit its approach and strategy towards Sri Lanka.” Other notable speakers included Lionel Bopage , former general secretary of the JVP in Sri Lanka who resigned from the party on principle as he disagreed with the party's approach to the Tamil issue; Professor Damien Kingsbury from the Schoool of International and Political Studies at Deakin University, and Associate Professor Jake Lynch , the director of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney. Those who have witnessed first hand alleged war crimes and human rights abuses that took place were also present, including, Meena Krishnamoorthy , who was caught up in the No-Fire Zone and two Malaysian MPs, Manogaran and Ramakrishnan , who visited Vanni shortly after the conflict unofficially. The conference was held ahead of the 2011 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth, the conference called for Sri Lanka to be denied privileges such as hosting the 2013 CHOGM and 2018 Commonwealth Games until the issues of war crimes and crimes against humanity were effectively dealt with. Furthermore, they called on the international community to “ take all necessary steps to implement the UN Panel recommendations in its entirety ”.

Tamils injured in detention centre riot

A riot involving more than 100 people has left three injured at the Scherger Immigration Detention Centre at Weipa on the Cape York Peninsula, Australia. Amongst those injured was a Tamil man, who was left with a suspected broken nose and teeth, thought to have been inflicted by a guard at the centre. Ian Rintoul from the Refugee Action Collective told reporters that the man was hit by the guard, who allegedly provked the incident, whilst waiting to use the internet. "We are not sure if the guard actually punched him or smashed the door into his face. "[There were] broken teeth and there was...

Sri Lanka calls for probe into Gaddafi's death

In a statement released on Sunday, Sri Lankan external affairs minister, demanded a probe into the death of Muammar Gaddafi. " The government of Sri Lanka is of the opinion that the circumstances surrounding the death require an explanation " the statement read. Gaddafi and the Sri Lankan state, particularly the Rajapaksa regime, have long enjoyed a close relationship. See Meeting of minds (Feb 2011)