US expresses 'real deep concern' on Sri Lanka

The United States has expressed "really deep concerns" over human rights in Sri Lanka and noted that the government has not taken any steps to initiate an investigation into allegations of war crimes. Speaking at the US State Department's Daily Press Briefing, Acting Deputy Spokesperson Patrick Ventrell noted the "strong concern" over violations of international humanitarian law in Sri Lanka. The question has been reproduced below. QUESTION : Just a quick one on human rights. The UN Human Rights Report and also Human Rights Watch, they are accusing Sri Lanka as far as not taking steps against...

Peiris visits Israel and Palestine

Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister GL Peiris has had a busy schedule over the last week, visiting both Palestinian and Israeli Presidents in visits to Ramallah and Jerusalem. On meeting Palestinian President Mahmood Abbas in Ramallah, the Sri Lankan Ministry of Defence reported , “ President Abbas, recalling with his visits to Sri Lanka in 2008 and 2012, said that he was grateful to President Mahinda Rajapaksa who, as President of the Palestinian Solidarity Movement in Sri Lanka for over 35 years, identified very closely with the aspirations of the Palestinian people. He said that the Palestinian...

Tamil pupils transported to Army cinema to watch Singhalese movie

The Sri Lankan Army has opened a cinema at their Jaffna headquarters, and what better way to inaugurate the building than to provide free transport to Tamil primary school children and their teachers to watch a screening. The army organised the screening of a Singhalese children’s movie at the cinema, with a soldier explaining the story in Tamil in advance. Around 275 students from Year 1 to 11 are reported to have been transported to the screening.

Shooting blanks

Cairn Lanka has abandoned an oil exploration well in the Mannar basin, after no traces of oil or gas were found. “The well was plugged and abandoned and the rig is being demobilised. The Petroleum Resourced Development Secretariat (PRDS) is being notified,” said Cairn India, which owns Cairn Lanka In an interview to the Daily Mirror , Cairn India and Cairn Lanka Director Sunil Bharati said that there were several paths Cairn Lanka could take in going forward. Graphic courtesy of “Depending on the results of the second phase, there could be two or three different paths available...

Power sharing talks with TNA only through PSC - Government

The Sri Lankan government has again requested the TNA to engage in talks to discuss power sharing, but only through the controversial Parliamentary Select Committee. "We invite the TNA to join the PSC as it is the only forum where we can discuss matters relating to power sharing with the participation of all stake holders. Going behind external elements is useless" said government spokesman and Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella. "The Parliamentary Select Committee comprised all political parties belonging to different ethnicities to discuss an inclusive power sharing mechanism but they have...

Rajapakse denies SL army killing Balachandran

In an interview with The Hindu , Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa has denied that the Sri Lankan Army killed the 12 year old son of the LTTE leader, Balachandran Prabakaran. Rajapakse is quoted as saying: “Had it happened, I would have known [it]. It is obvious that if somebody [from the armed forces] had done that, I must take responsibility. We completely deny it. It can’t be ,” “We must not merely look at one side. They must not merely listen to one group and the Opposition [in Sri Lanka]. So they [the Opposition] are trying to get the support of other countries to create an ‘Arab Spring’ here. That won’t happen in Sri Lanka .”

German Parliamentary Group calls for more pressure on Sri Lanka

The Social Democratic Party’s parliamentary group at the Bundestag has proposed a motion to urge the German government to act on Sri Lanka. The motion details the accusations made by UN reports, including torture and abuse, extra-judicial killings and violence against women, singling out Tamil women as victims of the military and the police. Tamil protests in the north-east late last year were mentioned in the motion, which called on Germany’s development project, focussed on conflict prevention and peace consolidation, to play an active role in improving cooperation between the government...

Strong response to 'The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka' at UNHRC

The documentary “ No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka ”, illustrating war crimes and human rights abuses by the Sri Lankan government, was screened in a side-line event today at the United Nations Human Rights Council amidst strong formal opposition from the Sri Lankan delegation. The Sri Lankan delegation strongly opposed the event, lodging a formal protest to the United Nations. Despite boycotting the event, Sri Lanka’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Ravinatha Aryasinha, made an appearance at the end of the screening. In an attempt to discredit the documentary he said , “By providing a platform for the screening of this film which includes footage of dubious origin, content that is distorted and without proper sourcing and making unsubstantiated allegations, the sponsors of this event seek to tarnish the image of Sri Lanka.”

Scott Morrison's advice to Tamils: be grateful

Writing in The Australian, the Shadow Immigration official, Scott Morrison, told Tamils to be grateful, stating that "Kilonochchi may not be the Paris end of Sri Lanka, but it has come a long way". See here . Reproduced in full below: Kilonochchi may not be the Paris end of Sri Lanka, but it has come a long way since its days as the levelled terrorist capital of the Tamil Tigers just four years ago. In the Kilinochchi district, malnutrition has been dramatically reduced, 99 schools have been reopened, 26,000ha of landmines have been cleared, 10,000 homes have been built and 40,000 displaced families have been resettled. Road construction is everywhere; there is a new electricity substation and agricultural production is up fivefold. Across the country per capita incomes are up by more than 50 per cent or about $US1000 ($973). If the same transformation after a war had been achieved in Iraq or Afghanistan, they would be handing out Nobel prizes. Yet much of this achievement in Sri Lanka is going unacknowledged by the international community. Of course more needs to be done, the stalled reconciliation agenda needs to move forward, the military is still too involved in civilian matters, but the checkpoints are gone, the drawdown has commenced and soldiers are no longer on street corners with guns. Elections in the northern province will be held in September. Of critical importance is the fact that when the Tamil National Alliance took me on a tour of resettlements and displaced persons camps in the north, those living there did not complain about physical security but the need for jobs, access to their lands and increased local control. These are fair grievances. Of particular interest is the fact that 5700 Tamils who fled to India have returned to Sri Lanka. Of even greater significance was confirmation by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Organisation for Migration and the TNA that these returnees have not been violated. I am not suggesting people living in the north do not want or deserve greater liberty. But to suggest today's Sri Lanka is like Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe is ridiculous , and impedes a country trying to get back on its feet. The greatest threat to life for Tamils is not in Sri Lanka but getting on boats to come to Australia . Furthermore, it is economic and lifestyle factors that are principally motivating Sri Lankans to come to Australia rather than go elsewhere.

'Questions from the killing fields' - Guardian editorial

The Guardian has stated that the United Nations Human Rights Council must adopt "a much tougher resolution on Sri Lanka" in the coming weeks, declaring that Sri Lanka has failed to deliver action on the question of accountability for war crimes. Stating that Sri Lanka "should not be allowed to get away with it any longer", the editorial also went on to say that Commonwealh states should "reconsider the Colombo venue" for this years Commonwealth Heads Of Government Meeting. See the full editorial here . Extracts have been reproduced below. "After the showing of the documentary No Fire Zone in...