Perception that US lacks objectivity and impartiality, SL minister tells visiting US official

Meeting Nisha Biswal, the US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs yesterday, Sri Lanka's Minister of External Affairs, G. L. Peiris, warned that “there is a very strong perception of a lack of objectivity and impartiality on the part of the US." Lamenting what he described as the "woefully inadequate acknowledgement [by the US] of the developments that have taken place [in Sri Lanka]" Peiris alleged that "Sri Lanka has become a soft target". “There is an imbalance in the focus on Sri Lanka in the Human Rights Council," he said.

Day 2 of conference on Tamil land grabs gets underway

Published 09:28 GMT The second day of the international conference on the Sri Lankan state’s forcible and militarised procurement of Tamil lands in the North-East gets underway in London today. Follow the event live by following us on twitter: @TamilGuardian and #lgconf_uk Full coverage of yesterday's event: ' Land grabs constitute genocide of Tamil nation - Day 1 of international land-grab conference concludes ' (31 Jan 2014)

'Patience is wearing thin' says US official

The US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian affairs, Nisha Biswal, said the "patience of the international community is wearing thin with the pace of progress" at a press conference in today, reports AFP. Following her meetings with Tamil groups including activists, journalists and politicians in the North-East today , Biswal told journalists at a media briefing that whilst the US favoured an internal process, there had been no progress. "Whilst our preference has always been for a Sri Lankan process to unfold, I have also very clearly noted that lack of progress in Sri Lanka has led to a great deal of frustration and scepticism in my government and in the international community and as I have said patience is wearing thin ," she said, answering questions posed by the journalists. " Almost five years after the end of the conflict, meaningful steps are yet to be taken . It has been the desire of many to provide space for the Sri Lankan people to come to together to heal the wounds of war, but when that space is not used productively and aggressively to pursue peace, to pursue reconciliation, to pursue justice and accountability, it draws the concern of the international community and that is where we find ourselves ." " I would say that there has not been sufficient action by the government to address issues of justice and accountability . We heard from many people about people who are still unaccounted for, whose whereabouts and fate unknown to their family members. We heard about individuals and organisations that continue to feel threatened and intimidated. And when such a climate persists give years after the end of conflict, then I think that there is some cause for those individuals to feel that an international process is needed ." "We are talking to and working closely with colleagues across the international community, including the Indian government, with whom we talk on a regular basis about bilateral and regional issues, both in Washington and New Delhi. I will be going to Geneva as I leave Sri Lanka, and I will seek an opportunity to meet with the Indian High Commissioner whilst I am there. We are not at this point discussing sanctions. We are still very much committed to seeing progress on these issues." In a statement to journalists gathered at the media briefing, Biswal said: " W ithout justice, and reconciliation, without accountability, there can be no sustained peace and equitable prosperity for the people of Sri Lanka. Respect for human rights and a promotion of transparent and democratic governance are essential. Unfortunately, continued deterioration in these areas is already beginning to take its toll on democracy in Sri Lanka." "We are concerned about the worsening situation with respect to human rights, including the continued attacks against religious minorities, as well as the weakening of the rule of law and an increase in levels of corruption and impunity. All of these factors lead to undermine the condition of democracy." " Furthermore we are aware that in the past individuals who have met foreign officials, have been met in turn with intimidatory visits and threatening phone calls. I would say we view this very seriously and find it completely unacceptable ."

Conference on Tamil land grabs underway in Houses of Parliament

Last updated: 1000 GMT Follow our Twitter account ( @TamilGuardian ) for live tweets throughout the day.

UNP MP condemns NPC resolution calling for international inquiry

The UNP condemned the Tamil-led Northern Provincial Council's passing of a resolution calling for an international inquiry into the armed conflict, reports the . Speaking to journalists yesterday, the UNP MP Wijedasa Rajapaksa, said that the NPC's resolution calling for an international investigation was "illegal". Stressing that the UNP was ' prepared to support the Sri Lankan government in in overcoming whatever challenges it may have to face in Geneva in March ', so long as it does not try to gain domestic political advantage from it, he accused the government of inviting a UN led inquiry ' by agreeing to it in accordance with an MoU signed between the government and the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon '.

Doing business in Sri Lanka: a cautionary tale – FT blog

Writing for the Financial Times’ “beyondbrics” section, Hugo Cox describes why foreigners may have to be wary of doing business in Sri Lanka, using the story of Geoffrey Dobbs, who owns four hotels in Galle and is the founder of the Galle Literary festival. Dobbs is facing deportation for hanging the Sri Lankan flag upside down ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting last November. Click here for full article (registration required). See below for extracts: A leading British hotelier in Sri Lanka faces deportation after hanging the Sri Lankan flag upside down. Should foreign businessmen on the island beware?

Land grabs constitute genocide of Tamil nation - Day 1 of international land-grab conference concludes

The first day of an international conference on the Sri Lankan state’s forcible and militarised procurement of Tamil land, saw a number of speakers calling for an international mechanism to halt land-grabs. Various international delegates, including from the Northeast, expressed serious concern about attacks on the Tamil homeland, with many affirming that ongoing genocide against the Tamil nation is taking place in Sri Lanka. The conference, organised by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils alongside the British Tamils Forum, was inaugurated on Friday in the Houses of Parliament and is set to continue over the weekend. Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh opened the conference, followed by Conservative MP Lee Scott who spoke of the importance of justice and also pointed out that Sri Lankan regimes "have tried to take land and change the demography" of the Tamil homeland. Medha Patkar, a social activist representing National Alliance of People's Movements India (NAPM India) highlighted that the colonisation taking place in "every nook and corner of Tamil land" constituted a "continued wave of genocidal attacks" and further said: "Sri Lanka is erecting statues not to bring in diversity and religious diversity, but to impose a new culture."

Sri Lankan Minister condemns NPC resolutions

Sri Lankan government Minister Wimal Weerawansa has condemned resolutions passed earlier this week, stating that they were against Sri Lanka’s ‘national interests’. Speaking on the recently passed resolutions, which included a call for an international investigation, a monument built to the victims massacred in Mullivaikkal and recognising that a genocide has taken place, Weerawansa stated they were part of a program to bring Sri Lanka before an international tribunal.

UK govt should push for an international inquiry now - Labour leader Ed Miliband

The leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband, stressed his support for an international inquiry and pledged to push the coalition government on this, come the UN Human Rights Council session in March, in a meeting with the British Tamil community yesterday. " We would support a motion for UN international inquiry, but believe March is too late to start the process and British Government should push for this now ," said Mr. Miliband's press officer to the Tamil Guardian. Highlighting the on-going plight of Tamils in the North-East, and the need for a strong resolution to be passed at the UNHRC, the British Tamils pointed out that the Sri Lankan government has not showed any willingness to undertake an independent investigation, and had indeed proved itself incapable of doing so, given past internal commissions and inquiries.

8 years since abductions of TRO workers

8 years have passed since 7 TRO workers were abducted by Sri Lankan government-backed paramilitaries in Batticaloa. The kidnappings, which took place on the 29th and 30th of January, has not led to a single arrest. The missing aid workers are presumed dead.