Parliamentary committee questions UK arms exports to Sri Lanka

A report by a parliamentary committee has criticised exports of arms to countries that the Foreign Office has expressed human rights concerns about. The House of Commons Committees on Arms Export Controls concluded in their 2013 report that over 3,000 export licenses, worth over £12bn, were approved by the UK to the 27 countries in question, including Sri Lanka. The report says the sales to Sri Lanka, worth over £8mn raised “very serious questions”. The committee’s chairman, Conservative MP Sir John Stanley, said he was astonished at the scale of the exports, to countries including China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Zimbabwe.

Peiris delights in victory over human rights campaigners

External Affairs Minister G L Peiris boasted of Rajapaksa's imminent chairmanship of the Commonwealth at an External Affairs Ministry press conference on Wednesday. Peiris said that chairing the Commonwealth would be a "major victory by the country against its detractors, who have been trying to prevent Sri Lanka playing host to this all important biennial summit meeting." He also said that CHOGM "will be a big blow to the credibility of those misinformation campaigners that have been trying to bring the country into disrepute by using various human rights allegations as their principal...

EU delegation will travel to North

An EU Parliamentary Delegation, currently in Sri Lanka to observe EU funded development projects in the North, will reportedly be travelling to the North to see their progress. The delegation is also expecting to hold meetings with civil society activists as well as politicians and international agencies.

SLMC to contest alone 

Sri Lanka's Muslim party, SLMC, which is currently part of the ruling UPFA coalition, announced on Tuesday that it is to contest the North Provincial Council election on its own. The leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), Rauff Hakeem, is Sri Lanka's minister of justice. SLMC national organiser Shafik Rajabdeen told reporters, "We will contest the northern election under our own party symbol of 'tree'"

SL diplomats awarded ‘war hero’ medals

Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapakse has awarded hundreds of military personnel who took part in the last phase of the armed conflict with medals for gallantry. Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN and war crimes accused Major General Shavendra Silva was amongst the recipients of the highest honour, the Weera Wickrama Vibhushana medal.

Tamil diaspora accused of funding 'insulting' film

The Director of the Media Centre for National Security in Sri Lanka, Lakshman Hulugalla described a film that recently halted a French festival in Sri Lanka as insulting to the government and its Security forces. Hulugalla also went on to allege that sections of the Tamil diaspora were responsible for funding the film and corrupting the actors involved in the screening of the film. According to the Sri Lankan Ministry of Defence , Defence Secretary Gotobhaya Rajapaska has ordered an investigation into the production of the film and its resultant screening at the French Film festival. Flying...

Sri Lanka considering nuclear pact with Pakistan, snubbing India – paper

The Hindustan Times has reported that Sri Lanka is moving towards a nuclear agreement with Pakistan. The paper reports that although India has proposed a similar pact, Sri Lanka was “dragging its feet” by not scheduling talks, after initial discussions last October, subsequent to which Delhi sent Colombo a draft pact. Official sources said, “We are yet to hear from them,” despite offering a “comprehensive pact”. According to the Hindustan Times, sources said foreign secretary-level talks between Sri Lanka and Pakistan have identified civil nuclear technology as a major area of cooperation and...

TNA appoints C.V. Wigneswaran as NPC candidate

C.V. Wigneswaran, a former Supreme Court judge, has been appointed as the Tamil National Alliance's Chief Minister candidate for the upcoming Northern Provincial Council election. In a statement, the TNA leader R. Sampanthan said : "It was unanimously resolved that the candidate for the position of Chief Minister at the forthcoming Provincial Council elections for the Northern Province would be Mr. C V Wigneswaran, a retired judge of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka," There had been internal disagreement in the run up to the announcement, with Maavai Senathirajah also coming forward as a...

French film festival halted

The French Film Festival in Colombo was halted after the screening of an internationally-acclaimed film that the Sri Lankan military considered insulting. A defence ministry official told reporters that the film, "Flying Fish" had been banned in Sri Lanka saying: "It's an illegal film which insults the security forces and the government of Sri Lanka," The festival which was due to finish on Sunday was ended on Saturday morning, despite French embassy claims that clearance to screen the film had been given by Sri Lanka's official movie and drama censor.

Solution within unitary state is 'unfeasible' say diaspora youth

In a joint policy statement published on Monday, eight young Tamil activists from the UK, Germany, Australia and Canada reiterated the call for Tamil sovereignty "to be the basis of a principled minimal demand of the Eelam Tamil nation", and asserted that "a solution for the Eelam Tamil nation within a Sri Lankan unitary state is unfeasible". Citing a "need for greater transparency regarding the policy decisions taken by diaspora organisations", the youth said that "Tamil organisations and activists must be held accountable to the democractic will of the people". See here for full statement.