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.

Blame game over who created the Tamil diaspora

The United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA), the ruling coalition of Sri Lanka, blamed the UNP, opposition party, for the creation of the Tamil diaspora and international scrutiny faced by Sri Lanka. Speaking at a media conference at the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) headquarters, the general secretary of the UPFA, Susil Premajayantha, outlined that the UPFA government’s failure to prevent the 1983 anti-Tamil pogroms created the diaspora, who were now involved in lobbying the international community to take action against Sri Lanka using claims of war crimes during the final stages of the ethnic conflict in 2009.

Land grabs escalate in Tamil village linking North to East

Land cordoned off by the Civil Defence Force The Sri Lankan government has been forcibly acquiring land in the village of Thennamaravadi, an area that links both the Tamil dominated Northern and Eastern provinces, with over 270 acres of land owned by Tamils acquired by the state and Sinhala settlers. Thennamaravadi, located on the border of the Mullaitheevu and Trincomalee districts, has had almost 22 acres of land taken by Civil Defence Division and Civil Security Department members, despite deeds to the land being held by Tamil inhabitants of the village, according to sources on the ground. Sources also told the Tamil Guardian that 250 acres of land used for paddy cultivation has been acquired by Sinhalese farmers from Singhapura and Gayapapura, following harassment from Sri Lankan security forces, who coerced Tamil farmers into selling the land far below their market value.

China offers support to Sri Lanka against foreign interference

The Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has offered his country’s support to Sri Lanka against pressure at the forthcoming UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva, during a visit by its External Affairs Minister GL Peiris. "China opposes some countries' interference in the internal affairs of Sri Lanka under the pretext of human rights issues," Wang said in Beijing, according to Reuters . "We believe in the Sri Lankan people's wisdom and capacity to handle their own affairs," he said, adding that China backs Sri Lanka in safeguarding national independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.

EU to call for war crimes investigation at UNHRC

The European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council has decided to support calls for an independent probe into “alleged severe crimes” during the conflict and current human rights issues. Meeting to decide the EU’s priorities during the UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva next month, the Council reaffirmed its commitment to the HRC. “Ahead of the 25th regular session of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) and following the conclusion of the Third Committee of the 68th UN General Assembly, the EU reaffirms its strong commitment to and support for the HRC and other United Nations bodies tasked with the promotion and protection of human rights worldwide ,

Ignore SL's threats and call for international probe says USTPAC

In a statement released today, the United States Tamil Political Action Council (USTPAC) welcomed high level US envoy visits to Sri Lanka, whilst reiterating calls to ignore the thinly veiled threats of the Sri Lankan government's lobbyists, and table a strong resolution at the upcoming United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) sessions seeking a credible international investigation to probe atrocities committed against Tamil civilians by parties in the ethnic conflict. Highlighting the escalating militarised colonisation taking place in the Tamil areas, the US Tamil advocacy group, warned against giving Sri Lanka more time, arguing " more time will only lead to a point of no return in a country whose militarization in the Tamil areas has steadily increased since the end of the armed conflict, and has facilitated land grabs and creating demographic imbalance in favor of the Sinhalese under the guise of reconstruction." Extracts from the statement are reproduced below.

Reckoning must begin

Almost five years after the fighting ceased, impunity still rules. Quiet diplomacy, expert reports, video footage of atrocities and two UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolutions have failed to force Sri Lanka to fall in line. Instead, emboldened by the lack of international action and the military defeat of the LTTE, an increasingly brazen Sri Lankan state is rebuffing the international community, whilst systematically dismantling the Tamil nation and its homeland in the North-East. Sri Lanka's lamentations of insufficient time and space belie a reality where the more time and space granted, the worse the situation becomes for the Tamil people. The end of the armed conflict, far from bringing them the promises of peace, left them at the mercy of a Sri Lankan state drunk on its Sinhala-Buddhist chauvinism. Amidst this intensifying crisis, Tamils both at home and abroad, along side all those who believe in justice and accountability, have high expectations for the year to come. As all eyes look to the UNHRC next month, on which key states have pinned warnings and deadlines, the calls for an international inquiry are at fever pitch.