'No Fire Zone - The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka'

A trailer for a new documentary entitled "No Fire Zone - The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka" has been released earlier this week. Plans for t he documentary w ere revealed in October 2012 by d irector of "Sri Lanka's Killing Field s" Callum Macr ae . Speaking at Frances Harri son 's launch of "Still Counting The Dead", Macra e stated that "this film will be different to the others, we want this to be a call to action". See the trailer below. No Fire Zone - Trailer from Zoe Sale on Vimeo .

Independence day celebrations in Trincomalee

The preparations for Sri Lanka's 65th independence day ceremony in Trincomalee are in full swing and all arrangements are in place. This year's theme is (in Singhalese) 'Asirimath Mawubimak - Isurumath Heta Dinak', or 'A Glorious Motherland - A Flourishing Tomorrow' for the majority population of Trincomalee, who mostly speak Tamil. President Rajapakse will be part of the celebrations, along with 2,500 other invited guests, which will include members of the Sri Lankan Army and foreign embassy staff. Public Administration and Home Affairs Minister W D J Seneviratne said over 3,000 personnel...

SL extends detention without charge to 48hrs

Legislation that allows the police to detain suspects without charge for upto 48 hours without a warrant was passed on Tuesday. The previous limit was 24 hours. Presenting the bill in parliament, the Environment Minister Anura Priyasharshana said: "This is to curb organised crime. If there is a need to extend the detention by another 24 hours, it could be done by a magistrate based on a certificate produced by the police." The Prevention of Terrorism Act - of far greater relevance to Tamils - allows indefinite detention.

US 'disturbed' by attacks on civil society

The US Embassy in Colombo has released a statement , expressing concern over a "series of threats and attacks against legal defenders, civil society organizations and activists". The statement urges the Sri Lankan government to allow freedom of expression, without fear of retribution. See full statement below: The United States Embassy is disturbed by the series of threats and attacks against legal defenders, civil society organizations and activists who have spoken out on recent events. The right to express opinions freely is universal and one that is protected under Sri Lankan law. We urge...

UK still undecided on CHOGM

The British government has stated that it is “too early” to decide on whether or not they will be attending this year’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka this year. The statement was made in response to a Foreign Affairs Committee report, entitled “The role and future of the Commonwealth”, which called on British Prime Minister David Cameron to boycott the event. In an official response, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs said, “We note the Committee’s recommendation on the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Colombo, Sri Lanka in 2013. We...

Sri Lankan resettlement

The Sri Lankan government plans to settle two thousand Sinhalese families in the Vavuniya South Divisional secretariat division situated at the border of the Northern province, reports Seithy.com. The Sinhala families are to be resettled under the 'Humanitarian Agricultural Action Project', which purports to address the lack of agricultural activities in the North. As well as providing an acre of land for each Sinhala family, the government has also provided modern agricultural to augment the self sustenance of the newly settled Sinhalese. Meanwhile the Agricultural Development Minister,...

Provincial Chief Minister calls for bigger Sinhala families

Sabaragamuwa Province Chief Minister Mahipala Herath has called for more Sinhalese families to reproduce, expressing concerns over the apparent slow growth rate of the Sinhalese population. Speaking at a Government's Midwifery Services Association event, the Chief Minister was reported as saying that according to government figures, the Sinhalese population was growing at slower rates than the Tamil and Muslim populations on the island. He went on to state there was a need for more "pious and wise children" in the country, encouraging the Sinhalese populace to have larger families. For simil...

US Ambassador to ‘promote’ bilateral relations

The US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Michelle Sison has said that the US is looking to increase investment in the country. Speaking to the Hambantota Chamber of Commerce, the ambassador said she will do her ‘modest bit’ to build bilateral relations between the two countries. "I am looking forward to doing my modest bit to promote and build bilateral relations between USA and Sri Lanka. We would like to increase investment, and are keen to know more about opportunities in the Hambantota District," Sison said. Sison visited Hambantota harbour and the airport development project in the southern...

Two Jaffna Uni students released

Two of the four students held by the Sri Lankan military following the marking of Maaveerar Naal two months ago, were released on Tuesday. The president of the Jaffna University Student Union (JUSU) V Pavananthan and the member of the Science Faculty, S Solomon were released in Vavuniyaa. Two students remain in detention.

UK MPs express concern over Jaffna Uni arrests in Commons

British MPs raised the issue of the arrests of the Jaffna University students during the House of Commons debate on Tuesday. Expressing concern at the arrests, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Alistair Burt, said: "Our high commissioner has expressed those concerns to the authorities in Sri Lanka, and we continue to monitor the detention of those students. We take every opportunity to raise human rights concerns with the Government of Sri Lanka, and I will raise those concerns, including this case, when I visit Sri Lanka fairly shortly." Transcript of the debate is reproduced in full below: Mark Durkan (Foyle) (SDLP): What assessment he has made of reported clashes between Sri Lankan security forces and Jaffna university students and the situation of those who have been arrested and detained. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Alistair Burt): We are concerned about the attacks on students at Jaffna university in November last year . Our high commissioner has expressed those concerns to the authorities in Sri Lanka, and we continue to monitor the detention of those students. We take every opportunity to raise human rights concerns with the Government of Sri Lanka, and I will raise those concerns, including this case, when I visit Sri Lanka fairly shortly. Mark Durkan: I thank the Minister for his answer and his personal engagement. The attacks and arrests took place on the day after Tamil remembrance day . The region is highly militarised and even this week the Sri Lankan Parliament is looking at legislation to extend detention without warrant . When the Minister visits Sri Lanka next week, will he tell the regime there that he will not be persuaded by the language of reconciliation that it offers the diplomatic community, given that it offers only an arsenal of repression to the Tamil community ?

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