Conference in Danish parliament calls for independent, international investigation

TNPF Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam addresses conference Danish and Eelam Tamil politicians, as well as activists called for an independent, international investigation into the allegations of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide at a conference in Denmark - "A forgotten conflict: Conference on Human Rights in Sri Lanka". The conference, which took place on Wednesday inside Denmark's parliamentary building, included a speakers from all four main parties of Danish politics, as well as TNPF (Tamil National People’s Front) President, Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam from the North-East. The welcome address was given by the Social Democratic MP Troels Ravn - a member of the ruling coalition.

US State Dept 2012 report details on-going abuses against Tamils

The 2012 US State Department Human Rights report, released on Friday, detailed the abuses that took continued to place through out last year, as well as pointing out that "a disproportionate number of victims of human rights violations were Tamils ." See here for full report. Extracts have been reproduced below. Executive Summary: "The major human rights problems were attacks on and harassment of civil society activists, persons viewed as Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam ( LTTE ) sympathizers, and journalists by persons allegedly tied to the government , creating an environment of fear and self-censorship ; involuntary disappearances as well as a lack of accountability for thousands who disappeared in previous years ; and widespread impunity for a broad range of human rights abuses, particularly involving police torture , and attacks on media institutions and the judiciary . Other serious human rights problems included unlawful killings by security forces and government-allied paramilitary groups, often in predominantly Tamil areas ; torture and abuse of detainees by police and security forces; poor prison conditions; and arbitrary arrest and detention by authorities." "There were restrictions on freedom of speech, press, assembly, association, and movement . While citizens generally were able to travel almost anywhere in the island, there continued to be police and military checkpoints in the north , and de facto high-security zones and other areas remained off limits to citizens. Authorities harassed journalists critical of the government and self-censorship was widespread."

Liberals call for action against Sri Lanka at CMAG

The Liberal Party in Canada has condemned the ongoing violence in Sri Lanka and called for the Conservative government to take action at the upcoming Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) meeting on Friday. Liberal MP Bob Rae said in a statement: “The reports of recent attacks at the Uthayan newspaper and on-going violence in Sri Lanka are deeply concerning. "Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs has not matched his rhetoric on Sri Lanka with concrete, strong actions. He must work to persuade members of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) to take collective action against...

Criminal remarks

A parliamentarian of a major Tamil Party in the north, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), was interrogated by Sri Lanka's Criminal Investigation Department (CID), over comments he made regarding the Sri Lankan Army. The TNA parliamentarian, Suresh Premachandran told media that the investigations were concerning comments, outlining the intense military occupation of the north, he made in an interview with the 'Times of India'. Premachandran was questioned for 2 hours by the Sri Lankan CID after failing to respond to an initial summoning for 12th April. The Jaffna district MP Premachandran is...

Statues and emblems not enough for BBS

In an interview to Sri Lanka’s Daily Financial Times, the Chief Executive Officer of Bodu Bala Sena has stated that his group’s aim is to ensure “true Buddhism” is practised in the country, adding that the presence of Buddha statues across the island and Buddhist symbols in government logos was not enough. The group, a Sinhala translation of ‘Buddhist Power Force’, is a “civil society movement led by monks”, claimed Dilantha Withange, stating in his interview , “According to our Constitution, Buddhism should be given foremost priority. But we believe this is not practiced in Sri Lanka at present. Buddhism is not given due recognition in this country. We may have the dharma chakra in our national emblem; there may be Buddhist statues in every corner in the country; but the question is whether Buddhism is properly practiced in this country .” Since the end of the war Sri Lanka has rapidly escalated its construction of Buddha statues and other Buddhist sites across the Tamil homeland in the North-East of the island. Withange also commented, “Our country was under imperialists for a long period of time. They ruined the roots of Buddhism in this country. Although they left, our leaders continued their agendas. Various leaders come into power labelling themselves as Buddhists and patriots, but they all follow what the British and others did. Then the war worsened things. Our prime objective is to put an end to this and establish a Buddhist society in our country once again .” “Meanwhile, although the Constitution says foremost priority should be given to Buddhism, it doesn’t say anywhere that Buddhism is our State religion. Countries like Bangladesh clearly say that Islam is their State religion. We need to put things in the right place. That is what we want. This is a country that doesn’t even practice the five basic principles of Buddhism. We need to change this.”

Further increases in price of bakery product

Bread prices in Sri Lanka are set to increase, after the government hiked electricity tariffs, despite widespread opposition. The All Ceylon Bakery Owners' Association said the increase in electricity tariffs is affecting the industry and consequently prices of bakery goods would be increased. The Association said the price of gas was increased first, followed by a fuel price hike and now the electricity tariffs. "These steps will make bakers lose whatever profits they earn and therefore, the increase in prices of bakery goods was imminent," the Association said . The US sought a meeting with...

The philosophy behind SL 'reconciliation'

Permanent Representative to the UN, Palitha Kohona, told the UN General Assembly that Sri Lanka was not particularly interested in finding 'culprits'. Having mentioned the state's benevolent decision to not take 'punitive legal action' against many captured cadres and LTTE leaders, Kohona also managed to eloquently pitch Sri Lanka's reverence of impunity along with its disinterest in accountability: “Our underlying philosophy is that reconciliation is not about finding culprits to punish," See also: It wasn't the army, says the army - volume II

Ministry of Finance prohibits sale of land to 'foreigners'

Sri Lanka's Ministry of Finance sent a circular, dated 27th March 2013, explicitly stating that the transfer of land, included that which is privately owned, was prohibited to any foreign national or foreign company.

Rajapaksa - will not allow creation of 'religious or communal disharmony'

Addressing delegation from 15 Islamic countries on Thursday, Sri Lanka's president, Mahinda Rajapaksa said that the Sri Lankan government 'will not tolerate anyone perpetrating acts to create communal or religious disharmony'. The Ministry of Defence's website quoted Rajapaksa as saying: "If anyone has proof and evidence of such incidents, they should hand over that information, and action would be taken promptly." The visiting delegates included those from: Bangladesh, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Indonesia, Kuwait, Malaysia, Maldives, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestine, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates,...

Deportations breach Australia's international obligations

The Australian immigration department was accused of denying 38 failed asylum seekers access to legal advice before sending them back to Sri Lanka. Australian Human Rights Commission president, Gillian Triggs, expressed concern regarding the 'enhanced screening process' that had been implemented on Sri Lankan boat arrivals, resulting in involuntary deportations back to Sri Lanka. Triggs outlined that Austrailia risked breaching its non-refoulement obligations, which forbid asylum seekers from being returned to countries where they may be persecuted. The Australian Human Rights Commission's...