Japan grants SL aid to strengthen electoral process

The Japanese embassy announced on Friday that it would grant US$ 88,667 in aid for "The Project for Mobilization of the Citizenry to Participate in the Electoral Process to Strengthen Democracy" which would include voter education in the Northern Province and election monitoring in the proposed provincial council elections. The embassy said, “Supporting the efforts of the Government of Sri Lanka to strengthen democracy, this project is aimed at encouraging local people in the North to exercise their first-ever franchise at provincial level since 1988 and to ensure the conduct of free and fair...

Global hate speech database up and running

The Sentinal Project, an organisiation that works to combine genocide research information technology and risk management to prevent genocide, have released a new database to help the process. Hatebase , a new crowd sourced database of multilingual hate speech, will create a bank of words and phrases that researchers can use to detect early stages of genocide. Users will be able to log on to the website and add examples of hate speech that they come across in their communities or online. Highlighting the importance of unveiling prevalent hate speech around the world, executive director of The...

SL ready to share humanitarian experience

The Sri Lankan Ambassador at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva has said that his country was prepared to share the country’s experience in humanitarian work. Ravinatha Aryasinha said post-conflict approaches used by Sri Lanka could be deployed in managing humanitarian situations in other countries as well. Read more here .

Ranil pleads with UNP MP ready to jump ship

In an attempt to stop one of his UNP MP's from jumping ship to the government, the leader of the opposition, Ranil Wickremasinghe, met MP Dayasiri Jayasekara on Friday. According to ColomboPage , UNP sources said the discussions, which lasted over an hour, were "fruitful". Meanwhile earlier this week, a government MP, Economic Development Deputy Minister S.M.Chandrasena, asserted that one quarter of all UNP MPs were ready to cross over to the SLFP. Previous such ministers who have slipped over to the SLFP from the UNP include the current Minister of External Affairs, G.L Peiris. Recently, a...

Military occupation will not suppress demand for self-determination says GTF

Speaking to the Sunday Leader, on the upcoming Northern Provincial Council election, the spokesperson, Suren Surendiran, for the Global Tamil Forum, asserted that " no amount of military intimidation through occupation will suppress our people's demand for self determination ". See here for full report. Extracts of Surendiran's remarks reproduced below: "The elections for the Northern Provincial Council will take place amidst concerns over the environment in the North. The occupation of civilian land in Jaffna by the military and acquisition of land by the government under the land...

TNPF: North-East is as much a homeland to Muslims as it is for Tamils

In the second part of an interview to The Weekend Leader, the leader of the Tamil National Peoples' Front (TNPF), Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam, reiterated that the party believed the " North-East is as much the homeland of the Muslims as it is for the Tamils ". Reflecting on past Tamil-Muslim relations, he said, "There have been unfortunate mistakes made by the Tamils [against Muslims]. The Tamils have unreservedly apologized for those mistakes. We are keen to make sure they are never repeated. " He added, " My party however refuses to speak on behalf of the Muslim people . They don’t like us to speak for them, as if we have a common identity. I think the Tamils must respect their feeling and accept whatever identity they choose for themselves. We are committed to working out a framework for the North-East that the Muslims and Tamils will feel mutually comfortable and secure with . I have no doubts that such an arrangement can be arrived at." See here for part 2 of the interview, and here for part 1. His comments regarding the 13th Amendment are reproduced below: " The 13th amendment purports to provide devolution within the unitary framework structure of the Sri Lankan State. The term “unitary” has very specific legal connotations under constitutional law. All legislative and executive powers are vested in one power centre in a unitary state. In other words, the unitary state structure cannot provide for devolution of power. The 13th amendment only provides the mirage of devolution .

International organisations invited to monitor PC polls

Sri Lanka’s Election Secretariat has announced that three international organisations will be invited to observe the Provincial Council polls. The Commonwealth, South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC), and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will be asked by the government to monitor the elections for the Northern, Central and North-Western Provincial Councils. It is yet unclear whether all three organisations will monitor all provinces.

Reporting resistance

Sri Lanka’s attempts to restrict media accreditation to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) later this year and bar international journalists who have exposed the atrocities committed against the Tamil people at the end of the armed conflict, have led to widespread condemnation of the state’s abysmal record on press freedom. Whilst the condemnation is welcome, the current furore negates the very crux of the conflict – the Tamil question. The Sri Lankan state’s clampdown on press freedom is not universal in its intention or impact. Instead, Sri Lanka has a long-standing policy of targeting the Tamil press (and by extension, non-Tamil journalists probing Tamil injustices) in an attempt to silence the Eelam Tamil nation. To Tamil journalists working in the North-East, the granting of media accreditation to their international counterparts is of little consequence. The juxtaposition, so close to home, only serves to highlight the lack of press freedom available to them.

Australia to reject all asylum boat arrivals

The Australian Prime minister Kevin Rudd has announced that all new asylum seekers who arrive by boat will not be allowed to stay in the country and sent to Papua New Guinea for processing and settlement, effectively closing Australia’s borders to refugees. Papua New Guinea will receive generous aid packages in return. "From now on, any asylum-seeker who arrives in Australia by boat will have no chance of being settled in Australia as a refugee," Rudd said. "The new arrangements will allow Australia to help more people who are genuinely in need and help prevent people smugglers from abusing...

Military hampering Northern economy - EU delegation

A European Parliamentary Delegation, expressed concern over the Sri Lankan military's economic activities in the North, during a visit to the Northern province this week. Jean Lambert, head of the Delegation for Relations with Countries of South Asia, comprised six members from the European Parliament, said : “We feel that the role of the military in economic activities has hampered the growth of the economy in the North and this would have direct implications on Sri Lanka from a trade perspective, due to military involvements in civilian economic activities,” “There has been much growth in...