'No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka' screened in the UK

www.nofirezone.org On 23 rd April 2013, the documentary “ No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka ” , outlining credible allegations of war crimes and human rights abuses committed by the Sri Lankan government, was screened for the first time in the United Kingdom. Introducing the documentary to an oversubscribed preview screening event at The Frontline Club, the director, Callum Macrae, assured that, “We can rule out any possibility of this evidence being faked.” He also noted, “if there are any Sri Lankan government representatives here they will say that this evidence is fake.” The...

Relocate CHOGM - HRW

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has repeated its calls for a change of venue for the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) due to be held in Sri Lanka. HRW Asia director, Brad Adams said: “The Commonwealth will rightly face international ridicule if it goes ahead with its summit in Sri Lanka,” “The CMAG meeting should send a message to the Sri Lankan government that the scale and severity of its abuses violate the Commonwealth’s core values and will not be rewarded.” “The Commonwealth needs to have the courage of its convictions and its values and inform the Sri Lankan government...

Tamils protest as land grabs continue unabated

Hundreds of Tamils protested in Jaffna today against the continued seizure of land by the Sri Lankan government, as the government deployed hundreds of security forces personnel. Over 200 members of the security forces, including military intelligence officers, were deployed in Valikaamam North in Jaffna, as protestors demanded an end to continued land grabs by the state. The officers reportedly photographed and took videos of the protestors, as well as the Tamil politicians and Tamil journalists covering the event. [ more ]

Law Society of South Africa calls for SL Commonwealth suspension

The Law Society of South Africa (LSSA), called for the suspension of Sri Lanka from the Commonwealth, citing Sri Lanka's "breaches of the rule of law and of the independence of the judiciary, as well as the gross harassment of members of the legal profession." Supporting the resolution passed by the Commonwealth Lawyers Association (CLA) which called on the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) to please Sri Lanka on the agenda of the group's upcoming meeting on Friday and suspend Sri Lanka from the Commonwealth for "serious and persistent violations of the Commonwealth fundamental...

UK Bar Council condemns Chief Justice impeachment

The UK Bar Council, a representation of barristers across England and Wales, condemned the impeachment of the Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake, in a statement released on Tuesday. Maura McGowan QC, Chairman of the Bar, said : "The Bar Council of England and Wales is extremely concerned about the impeachment of Shirani Bandaranayake, which we believe constitutes a grave threat to the independence of the judiciary in Sri Lanka and to the Rule of Law." "The Bar Council condemns this action and seeks to offer its vocal support for judges and lawyers across Sri Lanka." "The Rule of Law is...

Only in #lka

The Sri Lankan President's son and MP, Namal Rajapaksa, shares his thoughts on the island's ethnic conflict: @ loveshan76 - In SL it was never Majority vs the Minority. It was always Terrorists vs Sri Lankan's — Namal Rajapaksa (@RajapaksaNamal) April 23, 2013

Rajapaksa hands over 3000 land deeds to Mahaweli farmers

The Sri Lankan president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, distributed 3000 land deeds to Mahaweli farming families from the Mahaweli L zone, as part of a ceremony at Weli Oya on Saturday entitled - "Farmland Rights for You that Give Golden Harvest to the Nation". Addressing those present, Rajapaksa stressed that they must "steer the country towards prosperity" and "use the land productively and not become a servant in their own land". Rajapaksa grants land deeds to Mahaweli settlers on a previous occasion - Feb 2013 The Irrigation & Water Resources Management Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva stated...

Sri Lanka rape victim will ‘go on to the end’ for justice

A Russian woman who was the victim of a vicious rape attack led by a Sri Lankan politician in a holiday resort on the south of the island on Christmas Day 2011, has vowed to carry on until justice has been served for the assault, which left her British boyfriend murdered. In a report published in the Sunday Times , the victim, 24-year-old Victoria Tkacheva feared that the men responsible would never be held accountable, commenting, “I know if Khuram was in my place he would go on to the end... That’s what I must do too”. She went on to state that she was ready to give evidence at trial, but was doubtful of accountability, given that the suspects, including Sampath Chandra Pushpa Vidanapathirana, head of the local council in Tangalle and close associate of the ruling Rajapaksa family, were freed on bail and the politician reinstated to his post last year. Tkacheva was distraught, adding, ” I was devastated when the men were freed on bail”. She went on to recount the horrific attack, which saw her raped and left with a fractured skull and her boyfriend, Red Cross worker Khuram Shaikh shot dead.

Stars to decide NPC elections date

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse has said that the date for the Northern Provincial Council elections will be set in consultation with his astrologer, during a ceremony where he handed previously Tamil land over to Sinhalese settlers. “My astrologer gives me a winning time and I will decide on the basis on what he says,” the President said at an event in Manal Aru, Mullaitheevu. Rajapakse was in Manal Aru to handover land deeds to 3,000 Sinhalese farmers and their families in the area, which was formerly inhabitated by Tamils. Manal Aru was renamed by the government into Weli Oya, as it...

'Much ado about nothing'

Writing for the Colombo Telegraph, Kumaravadivel Guruparan, a Tamil civil society activist, and attorney at law and lecturer at the University of Jaffna, outlined the facade of the proposed northern provincial elections and inadequacy of the 13th Amendment. See here for original article, extracts reproduced below: “Many ask as to whether the Tamil Civil Society’s position is pragmatic. As for our assessment of the 13th amendment – our assessment is one based on a realist analysis of the state of affairs. As to what we prescribe, if we are thinking of what is only possible, the options are very limited within the status quo. To be pragmatic should not be a call to learn to live with the oppression. To be pragmatic should not be a call to accept minimalistic solutions, which do us no good.” “The Government has made the holding of the Northern Provincial Council elections a ‘high value commodity’ for the Tamils. By promising and breaching the promise and re-promising to hold it, the Government has made the Tamil community yearn for it. The strategy seems to be to get the Tamils to ask, demand, struggle, fight for something so minimalistic; to get them to feel and identify with the Provincial Council as an institution that will solve their problems. The political leadership of the Tamils – particularly the Tamil National Alliance has fallen for this trap. It has become very difficult to get the Tamil polity to debate and discuss about what contesting in these elections might mean for the Tamil struggle for self determination and meaningful self-government. Most Tamils want to vote, purely to show their displeasure with the Government. Many Tamils actually think, quite mistakenly, that an elected TNA Chief Minister will be able to reign in the unruly Governor of the Northern Province. The defeatist mentality stemming from Mullivaaykkal reigns supreme and many actors are making convenient use of this collective despair of the Tamil people.”