Tamil undergrads attacked by Sinhalese students

Tamil undergraduates at the Eastern University of Sri Lanka (EUSL) have faced physical attacks from Sinhalese students at the university, reports TamilNet. The students were attacked on a campus bus after a picture of the Buddha was found torn at the front of the vehicle. The Sinhalese undergrads that were culpable for the attacks are yet to face repercussions for their actions. The 25 Tamils, who are now a minority in the once predominantly Tamil university, claim that the campus administration has not acted on their complaints. Tamil students concluded that this impunity was a result of the...

Keppapulavu IDPs face harsh conditions amidst rains

As the torrential rains and gusts, caused by Cyclone Nilam, battered the North-East, the recently uprooted families have been hardest hit. The 178 families from Keppapulavu, who were forced to move in September from a camp to what was little more than a clearing in a forest, have had their makeshift shelters battered, reports Uthayan. Not having received any food aid since being forced out, the families are now unable to prepare food, having had their makeshift roofs and walls swept away by the rain.

Professionals body reiterate call for 13A repeal

The President of the Organisation of Professional Associations (OPA), Benedict Ulluwishewa, has reiterated that they would support a repeal of the 13th Amendement. Speaking to The Island , Ulluwishewa said that the body was to discuss and propose an 'alternative mechanism to the hotly disputed piece of legislature'. To mark May 18th this year, the OPA passed a resolution that called for the repeal of the 13th Amendment. Last week, the defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, defended his calls for the repeal and highlighted the widespread support he had, including within the OPA, which has over 50,000 professionals as members. See related articles: Anti-13A campaign blessed (29 Oct 2012) 13A saga continues (25 Oct 2012)

More ‘boatpeople’ deported

A group of 26 people who had arrived at Cocos and Christmas islands by boat have been deported, announced Australian Immigration Minister Chris Bowen. Bowen said of the deportees: "They did not make any case, any claims, which meant Australia had any international obligation to them.” Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard said on Thursday that people attempting to enter Australia without a credible claim should be returned to where they came from. It is also reported that the opposition spokesman for immigration, Scott Morrison said it was “about time” the government sent Sri Lankans home...

Tamil diaspora orgs call for ‘decisive action’ at Sri Lanka’s UPR

Tamil diaspora organisations have condemned Sri Lanka’s “ abysmal lack of progress ” in implementing recommendations made by the UN’s Universal Periodic Review process in 2008, and demanded " decisive action ". In a joint statement released on Thursday, ahead of Sri Lanka's UPR, British Tamils Forum, Canadian Tamil Congress and the United States Political Action Council, said that the ground reality is one of “ ongoing militarisation, enforced disappearances, torture, violence against women and a lack of independence of media and human rights institutions ”. Speaking on behalf of the three...

'Crisis of impunity in Sri Lanka' - ICJ

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), a body of 60 eminent judges and lawyers across the world condemned the lack of justice for victims of human rights abuses in Sri Lanka and the "climate of impunity" in a report released on Thursday - 'Authority with Accountability: The Crisis of Impunity in Sri Lanka' . Speaking ahead of Sri Lanka's UPR, ICJ's Asia Director said, "Victims and survivors of major human rights violations do not receive redress, and perpetrators are not brought to justice. The absence of justice removes an important deterrent to future perpetrators ." “ This...

UPFA moves to impeach Chief Justice

The ruling party of Sri Lanka has begun procedures to impeach the Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake for allegedly violating the country’s constitution. 117 signatures have been collected from across President Mahinda Rajapaksa's ruling United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) against Bandaranayake after she ruled against a parliament bill. She ruled that the provincial councils in the country, including in the Tamil dominated Northern and Eastern provinces, needed to approve needed to approve development budgets before they came to parliament. Cabinet spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella told...

Sri Lanka continues farce at its 2nd UPR

Today, Sri Lanka faced the 14th session of the Universal Periodic Review Working Group of the UN Human Rights Council for the review of its human rights record. Several countries criticised Sri Lanka’s progress on human rights and called on the government to investigate past and continuing violations. A total of 99 countries spoke at the review, which was opened by a statement by the Minister for Plantation Industries and the President’s Special Envoy Human Rights Mahinda Samarasinghe, who detailed ‘progress’ made by the government and answered questions sent in advance by 20 countries. However, several subsequent statements made by states criticised the human rights situation on the island and demanded further investigations into violations.

'Empty promises on human rights for decades' says Amnesty

Speaking on the day of Sri Lanka's UPR at the UN Human Rights Council, Amnesty International's Sri Lanka expert, Yolanda Foster, said that Sri Lanka's promises on human rights should not be accepted by the international community. Foster said, “ Sri Lanka has been making empty promises about human rights for decades . This was made clear by a number of countries which questioned Sri Lanka’s lack of progress in ending human rights violations during the review,” “Three years after the end of the civil war, the government continues to stifle dissent through threats and harassment , and has failed to take steps to end enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions .” “Four years after the UN’s first review of human rights in Sri Lanka, there has been virtually no progress – as shown today - on any of the commitments the government made to end arbitrary detentions,” “The persistent lack of justice in these cases is shocking and flies in the face of repeated promises by the government for the past six years that it would investigate them properly. Victims’ families won’t believe the government until some practical action is taken. As a very basic first step the 2007 commission’s findings should be made public,”

Tamil asylum seeker facing deportation wins reprieve

A Tamil asylum seeker at Maribyrnong Detention Centre in Melbourne, Austrlia, who was facing deportation to Sri Lanka today and attempted to take his own life in the early hours of this morning (see here and here ), has won a last minute reprieve , only a few hours before he was due to be flown home. The Federal Court in Sydney decided to overturn an earlier court decision on the man, who is known as "Anjan" and said to be in his 40s. News of his attempted suicide had earlier prompted several refugee solidarity activists to form a community blockade outside the detention centre, preventing the police from attempting to deport the individual. In a statement released prior to news of the reprieve, the Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition, said : “We are extremely concerned about the fate of this asylum seeker,” “Sri Lanka remains a dangerous place for anyone deemed to be an opponent of the Rajapaksa regime. The use of torture is systemic."