4 killed, 10 wounded in ruling party gun battle

Four people, including an advisor to President Mahinda Rajapakse, have been killed in as rival factions of his ruling UPFA party clashed in a Colombo suburb, during local government elections. Presidential advisor on trade unions, Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra was allegedly shot dead by MP Duminda Silva's faction at Kotikawatta, northern Colombo. Silva is a member of the ruling regime, who has a close working relationship with the Defence secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapakse. Silva is currently in a critical condition in hospital, according to reports . At least 10 others were injured. The...

Fox's 'influence with the Sinhalese elite'

Writing in the Guardian newspaper on Saturday, Randeep Ramesh, the paper's former South Asian correspondent for over six years, highlighted Liam Fox's dubious relationship with Sri Lanka's Sinhalese rulers. Extracts reproduced below, see full article here . "Fox had first arrived in 1995, landing at the palm-fringed airport as a junior Foreign Office minister. A little more than a year later, such was his influence with the Sinhalese elite, who essentially run the country , that he had persuaded the rival parties not to attempt to outflank each other while negotiating peace or ceasefires with the brutal rebel separatists of the LTTE." "During a chance meeting in Singapore in 2007, Fox – by then shadow secretary of state for defence – fell in with one of Rajapaksa's lieutenants, the foreign minister Rohitha Bogollagama. He was back in the game ." "[2009] Concerned that the Sri Lankan army was indiscriminately bombing and killing Tamil civilians, the west ratcheted up pressure on the regime. Fox, a neocon in outlook, took a rather different view. And his new friends turned to him for help." "At the beginning of 2009, the then prime minister, Gordon Brown, attempted to send a special envoy to the island and the US offered to evacuate the 100,000 civilians trapped in the last 20 square miles of territory under LTTE control." " The foreign minister told Fox, who happened to be on a visit to Colombo at the time, that the government was declining "offers of assistance" until it had "cleared the north from the clutches of the terrorists".

"A Tigress and her tormentors"

Extracts from report in The Economist : "In its five years of life the United Nations Human Rights Council has been more pilloried than praised. The pious posturing of countries renowned for beastliness to their citizens incenses critics. So does the triumph of politics over humanitarian principle, the knee-jerk condemnation of Israel and a blind eye turned to most other countries’ abuses. "Yet in this unpromising setting, some positive signs are visible. "A report by the New York-based Human Rights Watch bestows rare praise on the council in its response to emergencies. In the year to June...

Jaffna petitions pile up against army and police

The Supreme Court has received a further set of 30 petitions from residents in Jaffna in addition to the 22 already filed, regarding the military’s assault on civilians in the aftermath of ‘grease devil’ attacks in the North-East. See report from the Daily Mirror here . In August, the security forces arrested and tortured hundreds of youth in Jaffna, following a protest against the military harbouring ‘grease devils’ – night prowlers who attack women. The petitioners have also stated that after being arrested they were forced to sign documents in Sinhala, a language that they could not understand. All the petitions have been fixed for support on the 27th of October. See our earlier post: ‘To protect and serve... Sinhalese' (Oct 2011)

Liam Fox had been warned by MOD

The Guardian newspaper reports that the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Defence, Ursula Brennan, had previously warned the Defence secretary Liam Fox about the blurring of personal and professional relationship with Adam Werritty, on at least three occasions. Brennan reportedly had raised concerns following Werritty's presence at a meeting in Dubai this Summer and told Fox to stop Werritty from using business cards claiming to be Fox's advisor. In a bizarre twist, Fox announced on Thursday that he would be asking none other than Brennan to carry out an investigation the possibility of...

‘Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields’ to be screened at EU

Amnesty International, International Crisis Group and Human Rights Watch, along with five MEP’s have organised the screening of Channel 4’s documentary “Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields” at the EU Parliament next Wednesday (12.10.11). A letter was sent out by the organisations inviting delegates to the screening. The letter further states: "Commissioned and first aired by British broadcaster Channel 4 Television in June, "Sri Lanka's Killing Fields" features devastating video evidence of apparent war crimes, crimes against humanity committed by Sri Lanka Government forces and the LTTE. The...

Veritable questions

Photo The Sunday Leader , Sep 2009. He visited Sri Lanka in 2009 with Britain’s Defence Secretary Liam Fox (then shadow defence secretary). His business cards describe him as an advisor’ to Dr. Fox. He’s visited Dr. Fox at Ministry of Defence offices 14 times in the past 16 months. But the MoD says he’s just “a friend.” So who exactly is Mr. Adam Werritty - and what was he doing in Sri Lanka? See reports by The Guardian , the Daily Mail , and Channel 4 . When Dr Fox was shadow defence secretary, Mr Werritty was a director of a company called Security Futures and accompanied him to meetings in...

Sri Lanka to track foreigners’ movements

Sri Lanka is developing a system to track and monitor foreign nationals as they enter and travel around the country, after a new online travel approval system is fully operational, LBO reports . Sri Lanka is starting at electronic travel authorization program from January 01, and is to scrap free visa-on-arrival to 78 countries. Controller general of Sri Lanka's immigration office, Chulananda Perera told reporters at a recent media briefing that the state also planned to monitor and track foreigners as they went around the country . "Each hotel and guest house will be given a machine," he...

Britain reiterates call for progress by end of the year

The House of Lords on Wednesday, saw Britain reaffirm its commitment for a thorough investigation into allegations of war crimes in Sri Lanka, as Lords debated the holding of the 2013 CHOGM in Sri Lanka. During question time Lord Kennedy of Southwark submitted a question to the House and said the British Government should state "it would be wrong for Sri Lanka to host the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 2013". Lord Wallace of Saltaire responded, “We, together with other Commonwealth members, urge Sri Lanka, as host, to demonstrate its commitment to upholding the Commonwealth...

The usual theatrics: more committees from Sri Lanka

In an effort to relieve some of the international pressure being exerted upon Sri Lanka regarding allegations of war crimes, the country's human rights envoy, Mahinda Samarasinghe, proclaimed a five-year action plan for human rights protection. The plan is to be presented at the UN Human Rights Council session in March next year. Details of the plan were not disclosed, but a government statement said it would largely involve setting up committees to monitor implementation of existing laws and to ensure better understanding and respect for civil rights. (See AFP's report here ). Samarasinghe,...

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