Tamils still at 'high risk' for mass atrocity - The Sentinel Project

Assessing the risk of mass atrocities in Sri Lanka, five years after the end of the armed conflict, The Sentinel Project for Genocide Prevention, concluded in a report published on Friday, that " the mass atrocity risk in Sri Lanka remains high ". The Sentinel Project is a non profit organisation, aimed at ensuring effective early warning of genocide, and acting to prevent the loss of life. See here for full risk assessment, which includes an outline of the basis of the accusation of genocide against the Tamils by the Sri Lankan government (page 34). Extract of the report summary has been reproduced below: "The current political situation gives the military an ever-greater concentration of power. The heavy militarization of the north remains one of the main obstacles to the region’s recovery since the Sri Lankan military has assumed an economic role in not only overseeing but also approving development efforts. The military’s freedom of action represents a potent example of socioeconomic deprivation of a specific group based on the treatment of Tamils as second-class citizens by the Sri Lankan government . Furthermore, the defeat of the LTTE in 2009 has done little to address the concerns and fears of the Tamils as they relate to Sinhalese domination. Instead of forming more inclusive relationships with the minority, the Sinhalese government has used this transitional period to reassert Sinhalese power . Additionally, police and military forces, as well as Sinhalese militias, continue to resort violence, including intimidation, disappearances, arbitrary arrests, torture, and even murder to restrain any opposition to the government.

26th breakdown and counting

Sri Lanka's infamous Chinese-built Lakvijaya Power Station in Norochcholai has broken down for the 26th time, since its opening in 2010. The plant, Sri Lanka’s only coal powered plant, reportedly experienced problems in the conductivity of water used to generate electricity, causing yet another shutdown. It was active for only 5 days, following a previous shut down on January 5th. According to Bandula Chandrasekara consultant of the National Electricity Consumers' Movement, each time the plant suffers a breakdown, there is a Rs. 26 million cost in restarting it. A team of Chinese engineers...

Govt to ban building places of worship without permission

The Sri Lankan government is to ban the building of places of worship without permission from the Ministry of Buddha Sasana and Religious Affairs. According to Colombo Page, the government cited clashes between religious groups for this decision, and claimed that the Ministry had received numerous complaints by 'inappropriately' situated places of worship. The Ministry's chief, who also happens to be Sri Lanka's Prime Minister D. M. Jayaratne, previously instructed officials to relocate a mosque that was ordered to be demolished by the government, arguing that there was no need to create...

US recommended use of cluster bombs to Sri Lanka – The Island

The Island newspaper has reported that the US government recommended the Sri Lankan government to acquire cluster bombs, to strengthen the army against the LTTE. An “authoritative official” told the paper that the recommendation was made soon after the ceasefire agreement was signed in 2002 and claimed that the government refrained from obtaining the cluster ammunition, although it did not sign up to the convention outlawing the bombs. According to the official, the Sri Lankan military did possess the ability to use cluster ammunition, such as Israeli Kfirs, Russian MiG 27s and Chinese F7s...

US embassy allegations are 'fabricated' and 'baseless' - JHU

The Deputy Secretary General of the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) party, a member of the current ruling United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA), labelling war crimes allegations as ‘baseless’ and ‘fabricated’, demanded the removal of a US embassy tweet deeming the Sri Lankan army accountable for the killing of Tamil civilians. Speaking to Sri Lankan media, the Deputy Secretary General, Udaya Gammanpila, disrepute the US Envoy, Stephen J Rapp’s visit to the island, stating, "Frankly, Rapp is preparing the ground for human rights violations allegations against Sri Lanka at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) sessions in March. That was the ulterior motive of his visit to Sri Lanka. We are not surprised at this tweet, as we know that he came to make this kind of statements here, but we urge the members of the UNHRC not to be misled by this kind of imprudent diplomatic mission.”

Catholic bishops want international probe into chemical weapon use

Whilst meeting the US Ambassador at large for War Crimes, Stephen J. Rapp, Catholic bishops called for an international investigation into Sri Lanka’s use of cluster bombs and chemical weapons against Tamil civilians. Rev. Rayappu Joseph and Rev. Thomas Saundaranayaga briefed Rapp, who was accompanied by US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Michele Sison, on the use of such weapons by Sri Lankan government forces as well as attacks on hospitals and places of worship, alongside the blockade of food and medicine to Tamil civilians. TamilNet also reported the Mannar Bishop telling the American ambassadors...

Army's Sinhalese blood is in Tamils - senior military official

A senior military official has said that Tamils in Jaffna are not “pure blood” anymore, due to the amount of blood donated by the Sri Lankan military to Jaffna hospital, reported News First (in Tamil). Speaking at an event in Jaffna, with visiting Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse, Major General Hathurusinghe said the Sri Lankan Army has done “so much” for Tamils, even donating blood to Jaffna teaching hospital. “Our blood is in the majority of the Tamils that live here, therefore Tamils cannot call themselves pure Tamils anymore. Our army’s Sinhalese blood is in Tamils. We have done so...

US Embassy in Colombo refuses to remove tweet on army shelling of Tamil civilians

The US Embassy in Colombo reiterated today, that a previously posted tweet holding the Sri Lankan army accountable for the shelling of Tamil civilians would remain unchanged, despite Sri Lankan External Affairs Ministry requests for it to be removed. The BBC's Charles Haviland said that the US embassy had confirmed to the BBC that it was the " official gov stance ". St Anthany's Ground - site of Jan 2009 killing of hundreds of families by army shelling #srilanka pic.twitter.com/GgJAqmQrVX — U.S. Embassy Colombo (@USEmbSL) January 9, 2014

Sri Lankan Army rejects 'baseless allegations'

Flatly rejecting the US embassy's tweet yesterday stating that Sri Lankan Army shelling had killed hundreds of families at St Anthany's Ground, as " baseless allegations ", the Sri Lankan Army's spokesperson Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasooriya asserted that the tweet " could also be an attempt to give credence to otherwise baseless allegations that have been propagated by some governments and separatist elements with the support of some international media organizations. ” Meanwhile, responding to the Sri Lankan government's demands that it removes the tweet, the US embassy in Colombo, made clear that it would not do so , as the statement was the country's official position.

Kumar Ponnambalam memorial held in Vavuniya

An event was held in Vavuniya earlier this week, marking 14 years since the assassination of Tamil politician Kumar Ponnambalam. Held at the Vavuniya Urban Council, the event saw speakers from across the North-East pay tribute to the prominent human rights lawyer, who was gunned down in Colombo. The Sri Lankan government was accused of being behind the murder, and to date no one has been brought to justice. Amongst those addressing the audience at the event was the Bishop of Mannar Rayappu Joseph, who stated that Ponnambalam’s advocacy and ideologies continues to encourage people to fight for Tamil rights. He went on to say that it was well known that Sri Lankan government won't concede anything to the Tamils, noting that the Tamils are a Nation, they deserve rights and they deserve to rule themselves in their traditional lands. Hear more of his speech in Tamil below. The memorial event was organised by the party Kumar Ponnambalam once led, the All Ceylon Tamil Congress, which is now part of the Tamil National People’s Front and led by his son Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam.