New report details torture and abuse in SL's rehabilitation camps

A programme of physical and psychological torture in Sri Lanka’s “rehabilitation” camps for former members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, has been revealed in a report by an NGO. Tamils Against Genocide (TAG) has gathered evidence from former detainees, who detailed systematic torture, beatings, humiliation and sexual abuse in the camps, and concluded that rehabilitation in Sri Lanka is a “physical and mental pacification programme that forms a cornerstone of the Sinhala-Buddhist nationalist state-building project” .

UK is working hard to ensure international inquiry - FCO tells MPs and Tamil community

The British government is working with international partners to pass a resolution at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) calling for an independent international investigation into atrocities committed at the end of the armed conflict, officials at the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) told British MPs and Tamil activists during a meeting with a cross party group, the All Parliamentary Party Group for Tamils (APPGT), on Monday. In a statement released yesterday outlining the discussion that took place, the APPGT said, “Since Sri Lanka has not made any progress on a credible and transparent investigation, it was confirmed that the British Government is working with international partners to set up an Independent International Investigation in the island of Sri Lanka. The government feels that there is a good chance of passing the resolution with the support of international partners. ” “It was also agreed that the substance of the resolution should have a strong mandate to implement the recommendations without any further delays with witness protection for all victims in order to serve justice and accountability for a long term sustainable peace on the island” Outlining the key messages advocated by representatives of the Tamil community at the meeting, which was chaired by the Conservative MP for Ilford North, and Chair of the APPGT, Lee Scott, and included the Labour MP for Mitcham and Mordem Siobhan McDonagh, one source at the meeting told the Tamil Guardian, “ we highlighted the likelihood of the Rajapaksa regime repudiating any resolution made against them and stressed the necessity to follow-up on the regime’s reaction to the resolution with travel bans and asset freezes. ”

5 years since self-immolation of British Tamil in Geneva

Today 5 years ago a young British Tamil self-immolated outside the United Nations Human Rights Council in protest at the inaction of the international community, in the face of the relentless onslaught of the Sri Lankan military on Tamils in the Vanni. 26 year old Murugathasan Varnakulasingham left a letter behind, in which he said that his actions were intended to wake up the international community, which “failed to stop the genocide against Tamils in their traditional homeland”. His funeral was attended by over 10,000 people in London and the anniversary of his death is commemorated every...

‘Government commission is a fake’ NPC Deputy Chairman tells Japan

Antony Jeganathan, Deputy Chairman of the Northern Provincial Council and Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Councillor, has slammed the Sri Lankan government’s commission on disappearances as a fake, set up only to fool the international community, in a meeting with officials from the Japanese embassy. According to a report in the Uthayan , Jeganathan met with the embassy’s political affairs officer who was on a recent visit to Mullaithivu, and told him that no information on the thousands of people who remain missing or disappeared has been released. The Deputy Chairman also told the Japanese of...

‘Saboteurs want me in electric chair’ says Sri Lankan President

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has rallied against an international investigation this week, slamming “foreign saboteurs” and “insidious elements” in a series of adamant speeches across the Sinhalese South of the island. Speaking in Batahena, Rajapaksa said a “smear campaign” has been started against him, stating, “Those who cannot tolerate the country's growth after the eradication of terrorism are trying to take me to the electric chair." Whilst the International Criminal Court cannot impose the death penalty, it can pass down sentences of up to 30 years of life imprisonment. In Udugama, according to the Official Government News Portal of Sri Lanka , Rajapaksa went on to launch an attack against the “sinister objectives” of “certain embassies with the help of Non Governmental Organizations”, who were attempting to destabilise the south of the country and launch a conspiracy against the security forces. He labelled a recent protest at a factory, possibly referring to the loss making state-owned Milco Company , as “part of this plan”. Rajapaksa went on to defiantly rally the South together in his speeches, adding , "Civilians should not be misled by the ongoing international conspiracy against Sri Lanka." In yet another event at the Sugathadasa Stadium in Colombo, Rajapaksa lashed out at “foreign saboteurs” as he launched a “Responsible Citizenship, Unity, and National Pride” program for school children. He stated that “a morally upright and disciplined society” needed to be created and that “ children should be guided on the correct path ” so that they could “love the country”, adding, “Therefore, it is a national need for programs of this nature (Mother Sri Lanka project), which paves the way for a well-disciplined society to be given all the support in its endeavours." The Official Government News Portal of Sri Lanka went on to add, “students expressed their loyalty to President with a Kurahan Satakaya ”.

75 men, women and children arrested after attempting to flee Sri Lanka

Photograph: Daily Mirror A group of 75 Tamil asylum seekers who attempted to flee from Sri Lanka have been stopped and arrested by Sri Lankan security forces. The group, consisting of 60 men, 9 women and 6 children were all Tamils from Batticaloa and Valaichchenai, in the Eastern province. They are the latest in a sustained wave of Tamil asylum seekers who have continued to attempt to flee the island since the end of the armed conflict in May 2009. A report by Human Rights Watch found that Tamil detainees, including failed asylum seekers, were regularly tortured and raped by Sri Lankan...

Sri Lanka falls further in RSF press freedom index

The World Press Freedom Index for 2014 , compiled by Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF) has Sri Lanka fall further to 165th position out of a total of 180 countries. Last year Sri Lanka occupied the 162nd spot, but has gone down the rankings due further restriction of the Tamil press. “In the north of Sri Lanka (165th, -2), the army reigns supreme, tolerating no challenge to the official vision of the “pacification” process in Tamil separatism’s former strongholds.” RSF said.

TNA demands international probe into mass graves

The Tamil National alliance (TNA), today, called for an independent international probe into the mass grave found in Mannar. The skeleton count rose to 59 today, after the 20th excavation at the site was completed. Evidence of bullet holes have been found on the skeletal remains whilst others bodies have been found with hands bound. Speaking to Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka, the TNA parliamentarian for Mannar, Selvam Adaikalanathan, implored , “We are also aware that some of the western countries, including the US, who are experts in forensic tests, excavation and investigation have expressed their willingness to assist the local excavation and investigation processes, but they have not been granted necessary permission. We, the Tamils, cannot simply rely on the Sri Lankan government for justice. If the investigations are to be independent, it has to be an international one. ” Outlining the risk of losing evidence, Adaikalanathan stressed the urgency of his calls, stating, “One more human skeletal remain was recovered when digging took place yesterday for the 21st time, taking the total number to 59. At least one of them was said to be of a child. We still don’t know the extent of this mass grave. Some of the skeletal remains had bullet holes while some others have been found with their hands bound behind their bodies. We urgently call for an independent international investigation into this mass grave. Otherwise, there is risk of evidence being tampered with or destroyed completely.”

China criticises international pressure on SL

China today launched an attack on countries that were pressing Sri Lanka on human rights issues, pledging to support the Sri Lankan government defend its ‘national independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity’. Responding to a query regarding the Sri Lankan External Affairs Minister, G.L Peiris’, visit to China, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying, said, “We believe that the people in Sri Lanka have the wisdom and capacity to manage their internal affairs and oppose some countries’ interference in Sri Lanka’s domestic affairs under the pretext of human rights issues...

3 more skeletons unearthed in Mannar mass grave

3 more skeletons have been uncovered in the latest excavation of the mass grave in Mannar, reported the Uthayan. The excavation is the 20th to have taken place so far, from which a total of 58 bodies have been unearthed.